DEVELOPING AN ONLINE PORTAL FOR MATHEMATICS TEACHERS IN RESOURCE-CONSTRAINED SCHOOL SETTINGS
1 University of Pretoria (SOUTH AFRICA)
2 Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (SOUTH AFRICA)
3 University of the Free State (SOUTH AFRICA)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN15 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Page: 2222 (abstract only)
Conference name: 7th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2015
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract:In this paper we describe the development of a technology-driven platform in support of high school mathematics teachers. The research context is resource-constrained school settings in South Africa, where teachers are often challenged by environmental influences, personal factors and curriculum-related demands. Quality mathematics education is a current priority in South Africa, based on continued poor performance by school students. As such, continued research on support initiatives for both teachers and school students is at the core of addressing the current mathematics crisis in South Africa.
Against this background, we set out to investigate how an online support platform can support mathematics teachers. Even though resources are available to any teacher who accesses these via the Internet, teachers are often overwhelmed by the number of available resources. More often than not, they are uncertain about the quality of the various available resources, and the degree of alignment with the current school curriculum. In developing the MIDHub (Mathematics Information Delivery Hub) platform we set out to explore the way in which such a platform can (i) create an avenue whereby teachers’ professional and personal development can be promoted, and (ii) encourage mathematics teachers to enrich their teaching by integrating online resources. Two experienced teachers with Masters degrees and a lecturer took responsibility to identify suitable online resources for the MIDHub platform. The criteria used to identify these online resources include curriculum alignment, differentiation in terms of the unique South African context (e.g. units, language), levels of difficulty, and aesthetic quality.
Mathematics teachers from ten schools in South Africa participate in this pilot study. Following the collection of baseline data concerning the teachers’ (n=22) skills, perceptions and support needs we developed the MIDHub platform. After development of the content, 29 teachers were introduced to the platform and guided in using this potential resource. Based on initial feedback a few challenges were identified, namely limited Internet access, difficulty to access the MIDHub portal (it requires the opening of a browser and typing of an Internet address), scrolling down to content not visible on the page, and returning to the home page. In order to address these challenges we provided each participating teacher with a 3G modem and data, created an icon link on their desktops to the MIDHub platform, organized the webpages in such a way that all the content is available on one page, and created a home button on the website. We also expanded the portal to address the requests of the teachers. Currently, implementation of the platform by participating teachers is underway. Following this phase of the project, we will monitor and evaluate the use and potential value of the MIDHub platform at intervals 6, 12, 18 and 24 months.
Keywords: Portal, mathematic teacher support, online resources.