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The importance of being accessible: The graphics calculator in mathematics education

Kissane, B. (1995) The importance of being accessible: The graphics calculator in mathematics education. In: 1st Asian Technology Conference on Mathematics, 18 -21 December 1995, Singapore.

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    The first decade of the availability of graphics calculators in secondary schools has just concluded, although evidence for this is easier to find in some countries and schools than in others, since there are gross socio-economic differences in both cases. It is now almost the end of the second decade since the invention of microcomputers and their appearance in mathematics educational settings. Most of the interest in technology for mathematics education has been concerned with microcomputers. But there has been a steady increase in interest in graphics calculators by students, teachers, curriculum developers and examination authorities, in growing recognition that accessibility of technology at the level of the individual student is the key factor in responding appropriately to technological change; the experience of the last decade suggests very strongly that mathematics teachers are well advised to pay more attention to graphics calculators than to microcomputers.

    There are clear signs that the commercial marketplace, especially in the United States, is acutely aware of this trend. It was recently reported that current US sales of graphics calculators are around six million units per year, and rising. There are now four major corporations developing products aimed directly at the high school market, with all four producing graphics calculators of high quality and beginning to understand the educational needs of students and their teachers. To get some evidence of this interest, I scanned a recent issue (April 1995) of The Mathematics Teacher, the NCTM journal focussed on high school mathematics. The evidence was very strong: of almost 20 full pages devoted to paid advertising, nine featured graphics calculators, while only two featured computer products, with two more featuring both computers and graphics calculators.

    The main purposes of this paper are to explain and justify this heightened level of interest in graphics calculators at the secondary school level, and to identify some of the resulting implications for mathematics education, both generally, and in the South-East Asian region.

    Publication Type: Conference Paper
    Murdoch Affiliation: School of Education
    Publisher: Advanced Technology Council in Mathematics
    Copyright: 1995 ATCM Inc.
    Conference Website:
    Notes: Appears In: Proceedings of the First Asian Technology Conference on Mathematics
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