MATHEMATICS EDUCATION FORUM

August 28, 2014

On-Line Mathematics: Visions and Opportunities, Issues and Challenges, and Recommendations

Report Summary

The full report can be found here.

What should be the focus of online mathematics learning?
The focus should be on mathematical problem solving and the study of mathematical relationships. Learning should be situated in activity that is authentic for the discipline of mathematics. On-line activities should allow for exploration of concepts and relationships.

What advantages does online learning offer?
On-line learning has the potential of providing interactive exploration based mathematics experiences where multiple representations are linked and explored dynamically. Well designed on-line multimedia investigations of mathematics concepts and relationships will be educational for both students and teachers, helping them develop a broader understanding of mathematics content and process.

What should be the nature of online learning in mathematics education?
There should be a balance of on-line experiences, including demonstration, performance and exploration. The design of learning should be modular, and it should be possible to access and use modules in many different ways (in a fully on-line course, in a partially on-line course, and as a supplement to a classroom-based course). Students should have choices based on ability and interest. Teachers should have the choice to use a variety of strategies in their goal to help students develop a solid understanding of mathematics. Although there will be some need to create fully on-line courses, we envision on-line learning modules being used primarily as supplements and enhancements of classroom based courses.

How would the role of the teacher change in online mathematics learning?
The role of the teacher in the on-line environment is crucial, with significant impact on the nature of the learning environment, what students attend to mathematically, how the on-line resources are used by students, and what they learn and what they value. The teacher will play a key role in creating an on-line culture that values and encourages students' sense making and construction of mathematical knowledge. Teacher education and professional development will play a role in the quality of online mathematics experiences for students.

How will we ensure the successful design and implementation of online mathematics learning?
There should be careful consideration and application of technology so that it benefits mathematics education. Mathematics pedagogy should be paramount in decisions to adopt technological tools. There should be sufficient time and resources allocated to the design, implementation and evaluation and research of on-line mathematics learning. There needs to be close collaborations between experts in mathematics, mathematics pedagogy, and on-line technology at all stages of development of on-line mathematics learning. There should ready and equitable student access to on-line learning.

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