Interactive White Boards and iPads are being used in some classrooms as a tool for learning. One of the keys to learning with technology is to use it as a tool for students to create and share their ideas. How can parents support their digital learners at home?

Catherine Bruce is a professor at Trent University and leads the Trent Math Education Research Collaborative. Her research on how iPads and Interactive White Boards enhance math learning was featured in the TVOParents article The Value of Technology in the Classroom. Bruce has found that the interactive nature of technology, e.g. the use of hand gestures on touchscreens, helps kids make connections.

She says parents can encourage this kind of interactive learning through games, as long as they focus on “creation oriented” games such as Minecraft as opposed to “consumption oriented” games.

Catherine Bruce's Digital Math Tips:
  1. Encourage your child to use apps/software that involve 3-D environments, especially those where they are creating that 3-D environment. Research shows that games where kids can insert themselves into a 3-D context is particularly effective in building spatial reasoning.
  2. Encourage your child to play games involving mental rotations and gestures that involve rotating objects. This is a foundation to learning spatial reasoning, as well as problem solving and other life skills such as navigating space.
  3. Sit with your child while using technology such as hand-held and tablet devices. Share in the joy your child is experiencing and ask thoughtful questions. Rather than asking “What are you doing?”, ask something like “What would happen if you flipped that on its side?"
  4. Ask your child to take a picture of something they've created e.g. a tower built with blocks, and then have them use the photo to explain what they did - this will encourage them to talk about the math they used. Educreations and Explain Everything are two of these.
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