From Dan Meyer:

But the very technology that lets Khan Academy assess hundreds of concepts at global scale — random number generators, string splices, and algorithmically generated hints — has downgraded, perhaps unavoidably, what it means to know math.

I hope Dan realized the full weight of his words. Technology (all technologies) give and take away. While it’s easy to be critical of the Khan Academy technologies, I hope we learn to be critical of all the technologies we use in education.

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Of course all teachers should be critical of technology & any other teaching methods they use. Technology is continuing to change the way we think about mathematics. It is forcing us to ask not only how we should teach something, but what we should be teaching. Should we throw out taking a derivative by hand simply because I have Wolfram Alpha on my iphone and it can take a derivative easily? I would say, no. That would like saying students don’t need to know how to spell at all, because every form of communication is typed and has a spell checker.

So, if technology isn’t going to replace algorithmic processes as part of math teaching, what should it be doing? It should be used to help students understand the beauty behind mathematics. Technology should be used to help them test conjectures and discover patterns. Technology can be useful when the computations get messy and in the “real world” computations are usually messy.

Until more people understand the true nature of mathematics, people will be happy with Khan Academy (and similar programs/websites) and won’t look beyond their simplistic & elementary understanding of the subject.

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I agree with what you’ve said, but am not so concerned with technology replacing traditional ways of knowing as most will recognize the flaws there. Instead, I wonder how technology alters, rather than replaces, our conceptions of teaching and learning.

For example, how might using technology to “discover patterns” change the thinking processes required to come to understand those patterns (for better or worse)?

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