So far the bulk of my entries on this blog have been reflections on my explorations of the World Wide Web and the various tools created to harness its great power. Each time I learn of something new, like Furl or Flickr, I rush to master the tool, and then record in words my thoughts on its utility. This entry begins a new series--a series that will combine my knowledge of mathematics instruction with my knowledge of the powerful new digital tools that yearn for classroom integration. In the next few entries, I will describe how to create a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) that supports exemplary mathematics teaching.
Traditionally, mathematics has not been a subject that lends itself well to technology integration (with the exception of graphing calculators). As a student, I was taught with the lecture-textbook-worksheet method. I know many teachers who continue to teach this way. Heck, I sometimes fall into this method myself. In our present time, there is no excuse for teaching this way. With the introduction of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Standards, mathematics instruction was changed forever.
This leads to an important point one must consider when setting up a VLE for mathematics--the VLE must support quality teaching; teaching that supports the NCTM standards. In particular, I feel the four theme standards--problem-solving, communication, reasoning, and connections--should underly all activities associated with the VLE.
These theme standards fit well with the philosophy behind Moodle, an exemplary VLE (and the model for the one I will create here). The purpose of Moodle is to create online classrooms that operate in a social constructivist manner. This means that students are part of a social group, constructing things--Web pages, Internet postings--for one another. Problem-solving, connections and reasoning go into product creation. Communication means choosing the manner in which these products will be shared with others.
That's it for part 2. Part 3 will be about the components of a VLE.