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It's Not Your Parents' Math Class Anymore

November 17, 2009

Math Teacher LinkKnow what an abacus is? Ever used one? Your parents, who are most likely part of the pre-calculator/pre-computer generation probably did. But to paraphrase the intention of the creators of LAS’ online program—Math Teacher Link—it’s not your parents’ math class anymore.

Program coordinator Tom Anderson reports that math has been taught the same way for hundreds of years. Thus, the goal of LAS’ popular outreach program is to bring math instruction into the computer era. And, based upon its popularity, the online program has found its much-needed niche.

Since it began in 1997, Math Teacher Link has helped hundreds instructors nationwide. At any given time, up to 20 high school and community college instructors are enrolled in the program and discovering new ways to use technology to teach math and some of its more specialized branches: algebra, calculus, geometry, or statistics. And teachers appear to find the program to be quite useful, because not only have 643 teachers taken courses thus far, but at least half of those have taken it more than once. In fact, some have come back as many as nine times.

Working on their own schedule, teachers generally put in about 25–30 hours to complete the course, which consists of around five graded assignments and a final project designing a teaching unit using technology. Besides improving their instruction, teachers earn a semester hour of professional development credit, which can help toward pay raises.

At its creation, the program was intended to meet two main priorities: 1) to make it easily accessible and 2) to address teachers’ need for training in specific disciplines. According to Anderson: “It’s an outreach to the math community to allow them to take courses that apply to their own courses, and on their own timeframe.”  Conducting the program along with Anderson are professor emeritus of mathematics, Tony Peressini, and mathematics lecturer and NetMath director, Debra Woods.
More: Math, Teacher Professional Development, 2009