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Indeed technology has changed our world. While the change may not always for the better; there is no denying the fact that technology has revolutionized the way we live, and perhaps, if given the chance, even the way we learn.

Within the hallowed grounds of the academe, there is a fierce resistance over the use of technology like calculators and computer programs in teaching mathematics, especially in the elementary level. Purists would say that it makes students depend on the device and, thus never learn to make calculations by themselves. As such, there is a stigma attached to using calculators, that those who use them do know their numbers.

While it may be a reasonable good argument, it is based on a wrong notion. What detractors fail to address is that calculators, just like computers, depend on the quality of input it is receiving. As Van de Walle said in his book, “… the use of both computers and calculators requires the student to be a problem solver. Calculators always calculate according to input information.

Calculators cannot substitute for understanding.” (p. 107). Therefore, students need mastery of basic mathematical concepts before they can use the device for more complex problems and applications. Of course calculators must not be used for teaching the four basic mathematical operations; but once these skills have been mastered and concepts have been understood, then using technology can reinforce the learning process.

In real life and in the work place, Mathematical problems do not occur in isolation, they are embedded in convoluted situations that require critical thinking. Calculators can assist students in doing the tedious and repetitive computations while they analyze the problem and derive solutions through testing and logical reasoning. Calculators and computers are only as good as the student using it. According to Van de Walle, “People who use calculators in solving problems are, therefore, using their intellect in important ways…” (p. 109). In the absence of an understanding of the problem and how to attack it step by step, using even the most sophisticated computers will not help you arrive at the correct answer.

Other technologies such as computer programs and the Internet is a valuable resource for both teachers and students. Just make sure that their use is guided by clear instructions and learning objectives.

The potential for calculators and computers to enhance learning is yet fully untapped. These devices can be made into a powerful learning tool that is engaging and interesting. Indeed, in the hands of a creative teacher who is willing to go out of the box and explore new ways of learning, technology is a catalyst of knowledge.

Reference:

De Walle, V.

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