Author Archives: Wanyi Wong

Good use= Effective use?

  • What is a good use of digital technology in the math and science classroom? What would such a learning experience and environment look like? What would be some characteristics of what it is and what it isn’t? How might a learning experience with technology address a conceptual challenge, such as the one you researched in the last lesson?

A good use of digital technology in the math and science classroom is hard to define. But in my attempt to answer this question, I asked myself a few questions.  “What makes a digital technology a good addition to a math and science classroom? Should it be useful in helping teach content? Should it be good because it’s multifunctional and not just for math and science? or Is it the easiness of the technology the reason it is a good use of technology as its simplicity results in frequent usage? ” A good use is perhaps another way of saying a good addition to the classroom, and a good addition is perhaps so because it’s easy to use and can help students understand the math and science content easier. Regardless of why or how we classified a digital technology to be of good use, one commonality that can be seen is definitely on the frequency of use. If it’s good and useful, it’s used, and in my books, a good use if when something is used often enough that the frequencies offset the cost of the item.  A math and science classroom with the correct digital technology(s) shouldn’t require a lot of tools,  and definitely not a lot of unneeded or unused equipment. An effective learning environment that yields positive learning experiences should just have “the right amount” of technologies, so if one very effective tool can be found, just one if ten then so be it.  Either way, in my opinion, it should not be a space that has more technologies than students. Perhaps this is why now, more and more traditional classrooms are having their classrooms’ traditional technologies replaced by digital ones, as one digital technology can have functions that replace two or more devices, saving space.

With the right technology, conceptual challenges can be addressed as it would help students understand and see the same course materials from different perspectives and not just from their imagination. It can also better present materials that are hard to explain.  This can alter one’s learning experience greatly.

Making Sense

I believe that all learners have conceptual challenges when learning new ideas, similar to how educators teach with assumptions that they may not have noticed before seeing students struggle with the content. I don’t have a lot of experience teaching Science theories to students. However, from my little experience, I did notice that it doesn’t really matter what subject I was teaching, regardless of age, the students usually come into the classroom with some knowledge of the topics to be learned already.  This knowledge is sometimes complete, sometimes not, sometimes correct and sometimes not. It is also quite hard to have everyone in a classroom start on new topics at the same level, so it becomes a bit of a challenge for the teacher to scaffold students.  More than often, I find that the best way that works for me is to start topics from brainstorming together first. Get a sense of what everyone knows already, then review some previously taught material then connecting them to the new topic. More than often for myself, the best way that works is to start topics by brainstorming together first. Through that activity, I would then get a sense of what everyone knows already, from that I can then review some previously taught material before helping students make connections to the new topic.

This prior knowledge, fuels these personal theories developed by students and are often hard to overwrite and can take a long time to do so as they are personal and so “makes sense” to the students much more than something new being taught be the teacher. Most of the time, it’s easier to say “others just don’t understand my idea” than to really see that they’ve made a mistake in their theory because it “makes sense” to them. I believe that this challenge was very visible in Heather. Her theories made sense to her, so even though it was different from what the teacher taught after, she actually tweaked her theory instead of dumped her idea.

With advancements in technology and education, when Heather was later able to remember and recite the correct theory/answer with manipulatives next to her, it reminded me of the Multiple Intelligence Theory and how everyone learns differently, and manipulatives can be helpful for learning.  It helped when she had a 3D visual instead of the 2D representation she was asked to draw. This also made me see the manipulatives as technologies used in classrooms. Though not digital,  they were just as effective. When the manipulatives were first introduced to the classroom before the digital age, it was probably considered new media as well. But now, they are just regular mediums to have in a classroom, while new media are being introduced.

If the same “Four Seasons” question was to be asked by students now, they would have had the chance to learn the same material with digital media, so perhaps their answers may be different. Digital technology may have helped current students “see” the theory better, but may not help them understand or make internal connections though it might be easier.

Just a thought: Maybe that’s why we often find students not retaining course content as much as the need for them to make their own theories have decreased. As answers can just be googled.


Most of my first interactions with technology and education were from highschool. At that time, I remember being quite proud to be a student from my high school which had a considerable amount of digital devices. My school used TVs to display the time, current news and school events.  Classrooms all had equipped projectors and computers for use. At that time, our school was considered the new top school in the district, but as time when by, I noticed that our “current advances” were not that uncommon anymore. By Summertime, all the nearby schools had similar setups.  That was when I started to realize that the world runs at a faster pace than I previously thought.

The first time I used some form of technology to teach wasn’t for another few years. When I was in University, I had the chance to teach peers as  TechBytes Mentor, I taught my peers how to use programs that were commonly used in our Interactive Arts program that was hard to learn.  By then, having technology in classrooms was a norm, and it was now a competition as to which classrooms had the more advanced gears. But it wasn’t for another few years that I got to teach Math or Science using technologies, in a classroom. It was during my teaching practicum in Ontario. At that time, K-12 classrooms were equipped with Smartboards and so teachers had to learn how to use the boards. Because  I already had some exposure to the boards in University, I didn’t have as much trouble adjusting and learning the system. But I noticed many of the older staff, though had lots of teaching experience, struggled with using the technology to fulfill their needs. It became a situation where it wasn’t the technology helping the teacher teach more effectively, but that the teacher adapting to what functions they know on the boards to teach a bit of what they want.

I know what I mentioned isn’t new, and is a problem we all see, but I wonder how everyone approached this type of problem when it’s faster to only use a few functions of a technology to teach, rather than spend more time learning first.


Hello from Coquitlam, BC

Hi Everyone,

My name is Wanyi. This is my 9th/10th MET course and I’m taking it along with another MET course ETEC 531 as well. This also means that this is my last semester. I work for a private education company that has exclusive contracts with selected private secondary schools in BC and Toronto, as a Student Coordinator. So I work with many international students from all parts of China, who have come to Canada to study.  My job requires me to think outside the box quite a bit, especially when helping schools or students with problems that range from academics to everyday life.  I am currently doing this MET program, partly for self-interest and partly due to self-improvement as my education background is in Education and Interactive Arts.  I taught in South Korea for 5 years, after receiving my first BA from SFU, then my B.Ed from Lakehead in Ontario.

I look forward to working with everyone this summer. Have a great week even if the rain lingers longer than it should.