National Mathematics Day: Every year, India celebrates December 22 as the National Mathematics Day, in the honour of notable Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan. Ramanujan, who was known for his work in number theory and infinite series among others, was born on December 22, 1887, and it was as a tribute to him that the then PM Dr Manmohan Singh-led Indian Government had declared the mathematician’s birthday as National Mathematics Day.
Ramanujan, who died at the young age of 32 years, was able to combine close to 3,900 results independently, most of which were identities and equations, and his work had been appreciated by University of Cambridge mathematician GH Hardy, whom he had reached out to after he could not convince leading mathematicians in India to look at his work. His work also included solutions to many problems that were thought to be unsolvable by mathematicians till then, and this was despite him never having received a formal education in pure mathematics.
While Ramanujan contributed immensely to the growth of mathematics, it is a concept that many students grapple with and needs to be taught in a more practical manner than other subjects. This National Mathematics Day, Financial Express Online takes a look at how modern tech has transformed the way Maths is taught, especially as online classes have now taken over teaching and learning due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The transition from offline to online learning has provided interactive and exciting ways for children to learn various subjects. Mathematics is an integral part of every child’s learning journey and provides a strong foundation to application-based concepts for developing skills beyond the class. Through the adoption of online learning, technology has provided students and teachers with the opportunity to visualize concepts and explain complex equations in an engaging manner. Today, mathematics lays huge emphasis on a child’s problem-solving skills and gives them a thorough understanding by connecting the subject to real-life situations thereby achieving learning outcomes for all students,” said Anand Prakash, Co-Founder and Head of Academics of Vedantu.
Modern tech and mathematics: The changing trend
For quite some time now, smart teaching and smart learning are making headway into the traditional education system, and this movement has only accelerated with the entering of coronavirus pandemic.
“Maths teaches us foundational skills like logical reasoning abilities, evidence deduction, and numerical literacy. These skills are built over years, across multiple grades. Students will develop mastery over a concept when they can go backwards and forward while learning. A flexible and adaptive learning environment makes this possible. Maths is a subject that requires constant practice, and thus digital learning journeys cannot be made generic. We can leverage Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to generate a host of practice modules until a child masters a particular concept and achieves the required competency. If a student is understood to be missing some prerequisite knowledge, the technology can seamlessly and implicitly back propagate to the required juncture. Modern tech also allows students to learn through their preferred content style, such as videos, gamification, animation etc. When learning becomes exciting, the student is automatically more likely to develop an interest in the subject and perform better as well,” explained Arindam Ghosh, Head of Strategy at Schoolnet
“Advanced technological tools have helped achieve significant improvements in both teaching and learning of maths. There are innovative techniques that combine classroom teaching with digital learning tools to help increase student’s engagement through a personalized approach to learning. The use of advanced technologies such as AI/ML, AR/VR along with content analytics is transforming the way maths is taught, where students learn with a scientific approach resulting in improved learning outcomes. Omnichannel strategies have also helped build coherent and flexible student experiences across devices, platforms, and channels,” Manan Khurma, Founder and Chairman at Cuemath, said.
Meanwhile, Manoj Mohite M, Business Unit Head, Plufo.com, said, “In the last year, the teaching techniques have seen a drastic transformation when the education sector had to go through a paradigm shift during the pandemic. Especially a subject like mathematics which serves as the basis of any individual throughout their life in every aspect. Needless to say like any other field of education teaching methodologies of the subject has also seen a sea change in the last couple of years with the emergence and application of various apps and EdTech platforms that have been trying to make learning informative as well as fun for kids considering the adverse effect of online education and steadily falling the attention span of kids for any particular activity.”
Maths beyond chalk and board
While most subjects are moving towards an online mode, Maths is still seen as a chalk and board subject that needs practical demonstrations from teachers for students to see and imitate. This is primarily what sets it apart from other subjects, especially for younger students.
“Technological advancements have transformed learning for kids of all ages with the introduction of active mathematical practices such as experimenting, investigating, and problem-solving. While the online learning mode has compelled us to lessen dependence on the physical version of “Chalk & Board”, the EdTech platforms metamorphose the very concept into virtual tools. So, we can say “it’s a new wine in an old bottle” concept that we are applying for teaching Maths as well,” Manoj Mohite M said.
According to Manan Khurma, “With education being an experience and not a physical product, the notion of the classroom as the only venue where learning takes place, is fading further into the past. Learning maths has traditionally been seen as a subject which needs a physical board and marker. This notion, however, is evolving to an online space where a virtual whiteboard is being used by teachers to interact with students. Features like visual models and gamification of concepts can also play a major role in simplifying and explaining concepts of Maths.”
But what are the challenges faced in this aspect? “The challenge here is mainly to change the mindset of the parents who have grown up in traditional ways of learning and still believe it’s the best way of learning. So, changing the mindset of the parents and convincing them to accept the evolving methods of teaching is definitely a task,” said Manoj.
Modern tech: Can students be more inclined towards Maths?
Maths, though it can be fun, can also be a complex subject and it can lead to students being unmotivated to study further if they find it difficult at any point. The one most significant advantage of modern tech is to look at everything from a new perspective. Can modern tech also provide a solution to this issue and make students more inclined towards Maths?
“Modern technology is evolving and using tools such as gamification can help keep the student’s interest level high and capture their attention through simulations. Newer concepts such as VR-enabled immersive learning experiences can help students visualize a given math problem better. These technologies can provide a better, more interactive experience with three-dimensional ways to visualize the content than traditional pedagogy,” Manan said.
“Modern Tech especially the online teaching platforms and educational toys have seen an overwhelming response from the students and parents equally. Also, the demand for the learning kit market is experiencing a sharp upsurge and the entry of smart & DIY learning kits has made the market more interesting. This learning method boosts the learn-it-yourself idea so the kids can enjoy what they are learning and expand their thinking and reasoning skills and not to forget it definitely helps in reducing screen time for today’s kids. In either way, modern tech is a win-win for the parent-child duo,” according to Manoj.