Five Key Considerations for Networking in A Handheld-Based Mathematics Classroom


Roschelle, J., Vahey, P., Tatar, D., Kaput, J., & Hegedus, S. J. (2003). Five key considerations for networking in a handheld-based mathematics classroom. In N. A. Pateman & B. J. Dougherty & J. T. Zilliox (Eds.), Proceedings of the 2003 Joint Meeting of PME and PMENA (Vol. 4, pp. 71-78). Honolulu, Hawaii: University of Hawaii.


Graphing calculators have become deeply integrated in the mathematics curriculum, supporting reform objectives, and allowing the NCTM to state that “technology is essential,” without economically limiting reform to those schools that can afford computers (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 2000). Graphing calculators have succeeded by democratizing computation, but importantly, they also democratize access to powerful mathematical representations (Doerr & Zangor, 2000). The technology is continuing to evolve rapidly, featuring better displays, faster computation, and, importantly, new wireless communication options.

Mathematical discourse and communication is an important theme in research on mathematics learning (Cobb, Yackel, & McClain, 2002), and we expect that these new wireless, communication options for handheld devices will support pedagogy that engages students in classroom discourse more deeply. Indeed, a growing community of researchers (Stroup et al., 2002) has written about the potential of new classroom networks to improve classroom learning, and an PME-NA discussion group has been formed on this topic. The discussion group met in October 2002 and identified wide ranging uses and possible benefits of the technology (see Davis, 2002; Kaput, 2002; Owens, Demana, & Abrahamson, 2002; Roschelle & Pea, 2002; Wilensky & Stroup, 2000). The discussion at the 2002 conference drew a large audience, and raised as its most significant issue the question of understanding succinctly what functionalities new classroom networks offer, and how those functionalities support pedagogy.

In this report, we seek to respond by describing five key classroom networking considerations. To serve the interests of the PME audience, we seek to focus only on those aspects of networking that are most pedagogically relevant. To judge pedagogical relevance, we have drawn upon our joint research with SimCalc software and curriculum in networked classrooms with two remarkably different technical configurations. Moreover, throughout our effort, we have also kept abreast of related projects (e.g., in the PME-NA Discussion Group).

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