George Lucas Educational Foundation

Online Learning Platforms: Math

Online Learning Platforms: Math

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Hi all, Looking for some feedback on various online math programs. We has used PLATO, but found it wasn't meeting our needs. I'm charged with the task of helping to find and select a replacement. A few of our candidates are: ALEKS, MyMathLab and MathXL. Does anyone have any feedback on these? The good, bad or ugly? Also, possibly replacing PLATO for our other courses, if anyone has any suggestions! Current systems we are using or plan on using in course and PBL development at our school: ProjectFoundry and Schoology. Thanks for all of your input! Any and all is appreciated :)

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Thomas Stanley's picture
Thomas Stanley
Educational Consultant-former teacher in high school

I am sure you will find many math programs out there that are well organized and fun to use, however, we found that developing our own math program using other programs as a supplement was the most effective way to help our students. For us we found that using some canned programs, creating many lessons ourselves, and making sure their was a synchronous and asynchronous componet for the students was an effective way to teach math. Our experience showed us that students needed whiteboard work, small group discussions, exchanges with each other and the teacher, challenging activities, video and audio explanations, and quick feedback. We also created some project based learning assignments for each quarter.
One of the things I loved the best was the fact that teachers created interesting challenges for the students in math using TI calculators, math riddles, games, simulations, etc. If you sit down with a solid group of math teachers you can create a wonderful class. It is hard work, sometimes a bit frustrating but certainly worthwhile.
We understood that interactivity was a key to the student's learning and incorporated the 5 points of the star in the lesson ( student to student, student to teacher, student to community, student to technology, and student to materials) as the key to any lesson. In the end we made sure we got student feedback and looked closely at test results.
I know this is not an "easy fix" but it can be one of the most rewarding...thanks..

Sue J's picture

I've helped a lot of students use ALEKS and a few use MyMathLab in a tutoring lab. ALEKS breaks things down into teeny tiny pieces but it's 100% procedural and the "teaching" is, essentially, "click here to look at a math textbook page." There's no audio, no "here's why this will work," etc.
We also have ModuMath in our lab and I like it a lot better -- it's old, but it's got a real teacher talking to the student and explaining concepts with visuals and graphs, etc.
Our math teachers are exploring doing a project-based basic math class (using things like budgets). Is the "math program" supposed to supplement something project-based, or is the whole project-based thing only focused on other subjects? has some good math videos and I've been inspired to try to create my own lessons, too -- just learning to use thing slike After Effects (working at a community college with a Graphics Design program has its advantages ;)) but I think we need more things like this (except by people who know what they're doing ;0) ... or this:

Jim Kelly's picture
Jim Kelly
Providing OER resource links to improve k-12th grade mathematics.

Following up on Thomas Stanley's comment regarding developing your own materials, you may want to check out which provides several thousand links to complete open educational resources (OER) modules and units (each provides content development, examples and exercises) on a thousand of the most common terms used in elementary and secondary school mathematics. Mixing and adapting the modules and units could meet your learner's needs.

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