How technology can save schools and parents money

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“Education is evolving due to the impact of the Internet. We cannot teach our students in the same manner in which we were taught. Change is necessary to engage students not in the curriculum we are responsible for teaching, but in school. Period.” – April Chamberlain

In my third year teaching, I had to teach Algebra to 9th graders who were taking the State exam. It was a pilot program; our school, we were to work with students in a “challenging” neighborhood in a school which had been divided into different schools in one building. On the 3rd floor of the building was our school, we were a separate school yet part of a consortium of 5 different schools in that building. We worked together and had different streams for our students. Ours was designed for students with hopes for medical careers. As such we were to focus on critical subjects that they needed for those careers. It goes without saying that math is one of those subjects.

Now unfortunately, a lot of my students had deficient backgrounds in math and to compound matters had the New York State exams in May/June. Our school year began in September. I had approximately 7-8 months to get them prepared for the exams.

I reviewed the curriculum in August. Went over the previous exams, also perused through the data we used to track their major shortcomings in various areas in Algebra 1. I began to brainstorm for tools that I could use to encourage their participation and comprehension. My background is in Engineering, I used a lot of graphing calculators which were programmable when I was in Graduate school. I knew that a lot of our children had grown up with technology as fun not as a chore, it was novelty that they loved and I leveraged on this in my Algebra classes.

I asked my Principal to buy us sets of the graphing calculators as well as the overhead units for them. I illustrated the benefits to our instruction with data garnered from other studies of school districts that had utilized it. He was sold and invested some of the grant money for our school program into the calculators.

I had an eighty five percent pass rate with my students that year. I taught 3 out of 5 of the 9thg grade students classes. To say that my Principal was pleased with me is an understatement. My colleagues were so proud of our achievements. It was well worth it and it is from that experience that I draw upon for this article.

Math education for the most part doesn’t add up. The standards are lowering daily and performance isn’t being improved. Numerical skills among primary school students is dropping.  The significance of this is that as the world becomes more and more dependent on technology, this math deficiency affects future jobs and economies. In Nigeria, the problem is even more exarcebated as the content being taught is out of date and an enormous number of students who don’t meet basic math performance standards. More incredibly technology is driving economic change around the world. We need to invest heavily in education and tackle our math situation.

As part of my research, I discovered that Artificial intelligence technology will vastly enhance the experience of learning math. No more painful equations that have kept generations from grasping key mathematical concepts alone. Bye bye long hours spent bored with easy  problems. Due to these new innovations, with the course adapts to the students pace and patterns. It’s the same materials, just presented in a way that your kids can understand. The beauty of AI is that it can individualize learning in flexible ways in that it can cook for every single kid the exact kind of mathematical dish they need to learn with solid foundations, with different flavors for every single one of them.  Yet, ensuring that they are learning concrete Math, building up the kind of fluency that is needed right now. With this, we build an enormous growth mindset that would enable them to build their self esteem, making it possible to enjoy math with grit.

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I am not stating that technology is designed to be a substitute for teachers or regular instruction. What it should be is a powerful supplement to what kids are learning in the classroom. As budgets get leaner, programs such as this can ensure students on the extremes of education are still being effectively served by the educational system. That percentage of students having issues with Math could be notably reduced by connecting them to technology that responds to their precise challenge. It becomes the patient teacher, tutor or parent who walks you through that tough equation. Allowing teachers to spend more time progressing through the curriculum. That’s  a win win for all.

Usually, students who quickly grasp math faster are told too many times to slow down for their peers. Lots of parents can’t afford expensive tutors or after school math programs. Between their busy schedules and that of their kids, a lot of parents don’t have time to take their kids to academic centers. Also, the quality of these tutors and programs varies widely. Those in rural areas are often a disadvantage. Artificial intelligence overcomes both of these challenges.

With help of technology, we can deliver a world-class education anywhere in the world. We use it to enable promising students to advance quickly to the same level as their worldwide counterparts. Also, teachers struggling to keep the rest of the class on par are unable to spend the time these students need to move ahead.

This is the RADICAL potential of artificial intelligence applied to teaching math. It breaks down the barriers that have held back too many.

It is not a quick fix but it shows great promise. In other parts of the world where it has been used for just fifteen minutes a day, over 90% of the kids improved their math scores by 40%; that is time even the busiest kids can spend. We need to have parents, educators, and public policymakers need to ask themselves if they are willing to invest in this cutting edge approach to Math education.

Teachers win because they have more time to teach. Struggling kids can now keep up with the class. Advanced students can keep up with the world. Parents can ensure their children are future. This will enable us to have a workforce, businesses, and an economy that are ready to compete in a challenging global marketplace.

Help us with our mission to bring about change for our students. Please contact me to see what we can do to bring about the desired transformation that we all desire for our children to be future ready!!!

Adetola Salau; Educator / Speaker / Author/ Social Entrepreneur / Innovator

She is an Advocate of STEM Education and is Passionate about Education reform. She is an innovative thinker and strives for our society & continent as a whole to reclaim it’s greatness. She runs an educational foundation with the mission to transform education.

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