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Technology for the 21st Century: The case of the graphic calculator

Kissane, B. (1999) Technology for the 21st Century: The case of the graphic calculator. In: International Conference on Mathematics Education into the 21st Century, 14 - 18 November 1999, Cairo, Egypt pp. 208-217.

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The significance of technology for mathematics education into the 21st century is critically related to its educational aspects. The daily realities of societies, schools, teachers and curricula demand that technology is affordable, available and readily adaptable to accepted educational purposes if it is to be of importance to education. These constraints suggest that the graphics calculator merits special attention. Issues of economics, curriculum development, assessment and the professional development of teachers are addressed. The relationship of the graphics calculator to particular parts of the secondary school curriculum is highlighted, including algebra, calculus, probability and statistics; emphasis is placed on the potential of the calculator to permit student exploration in such areas. While secondary mathematics education in all societies in the early years of the 21st century can benefit by closer attention to the graphics calculator, particular attention is paid to the case of the developing world.

The closing years of the twentieth century have been a time of unprecedented change in the human condition. Among the changes have been mounting population pressures, urbanization, globalization, mechanization, greatly improved communication systems and topsy-turvy economic changes, to say nothing of the recent substantial political and military changes. Many of these changes are related to the development of new technologies such as telecommunications technology, computer technology, medical technology, agricultural and manufacturing technologies. Most of these changes have impacted sharply upon education in both developed and developing countries. Today we have increased expectations for education despite increased populations in school, with a declining quality of teaching force in many countries and a generally unsatisfactory funding base almost everywhere. This paper focuses attention on one small aspect of a large complex of issues: the place of technology in secondary school mathematics.

Even within education, the term 'technology' has many meanings, dating back to the time of Aristotle. For example, the multiplication algorithm for whole numbers can be regarded as a technology, as can the whiteboard and the compass. However, for the purposes of this paper, the term is restricted to refer to the electronic technologies of calculators and computers, as a careful consideration of these is arguably one of the most pressing problems for mathematics education at the turn of the millennium. Similarly, while the issues related to these technologies are important for mathematics education from kindergarten right through to graduate school, attention in the paper is focused on the secondary school.

Item Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Education
Notes: Appears In: Proceedings of the International Conference on Mathematics Education into the 21st Century: Societal challenges, issues, and approaches
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