While mathematics is a core subject and an essential part of the school curriculum, we would likely be stumped when asked to recall how we were introduced to the basic concepts. Abstract mathematical concepts can be hard for students to grasp, and employing traditional methods of teaching and learning, such as writing on a blackboard, may not facilitate understanding. With the popularisation and development of new technologies, younger generations can now benefit from technology-enhanced learning tools.
The Centre for Learning, Teaching and Technology (LTTC) at The Education University of Hong Kong (EdUHK) introduced the cutting-edge technology-augmented learning programme, Cornerstone Maths, to secondary school students in Hong Kong. The programme sets out to address hard-to-grasp concepts such as linear functions, geometric similarity and patterns and expressions.
Innovative formula for teaching maths
With generous funding from the Li Ka Shing Foundation, EdUHK brings to Hong Kong for the first time the e-learning platform developed through a transatlantic collaboration between SRI International, a non-profit scientific research institute in the US, and the London Knowledge Lab. The e-learning platform, Cornerstone Maths, was originally conceived following a charitable donation from the Li Ka Shing Foundation and Hutchison Whampoa Europe Limited. It was introduced into 124 UK schools under a successful partnership between SRI International and the London Knowledge Lab.
Professor Kong Siu-cheung, Director of the LTTC, said, “This is definitely an educational innovation for learning and teaching mathematics. This is one of the latest programmes in a long list of EdUHK initiatives to promote e-learning at schools.”
In mid-July 2018, EdUHK organised a two-day summer camp as a trial run followed by a large-scale seminar in November. The two events attracted principals, mathematics teachers and students from local secondary schools.
“The opportunity to work with secondary schools, especially with mathematics teachers and students, is invaluable because it provides us with valuable feedback before we promote mathematics e-learning to all local schools,” Professor Kong said.
The e-learning platform and resources seek to exploit the dynamic and visual nature of digital technology to stimulate secondary school students’ interest and boost their engagement with mathematical ways of thinking. Once they have a solid understanding of the core mathematical ideas, students can establish links between key mathematical concepts and explore and solve problems within structured activities supplemented by pupil workbook.
Feedback from participants:
Student Ceci Lam Lok-yi said, “There are graphs to illustrate mathematics concepts and these change according to the values we input. This experience is a fun alternative to doing exercises from a textbook.”
Louie Cheuk-wing, a mathematics teacher at Our Lady of the Rosary College in Kowloon Tong, said, “The programme is effective in teaching students abstract mathematical concepts. The real-life examples enhance students’ understanding and memory.”
The Cornerstone Maths project in Hong Kong was made possible by the Li Ka Shing Foundation’s generous donation of HK$10 million, which covered a scholarship scheme for the competitive recruitment of top talent and innovation in teaching and learning through e-learning platforms.