Does PhotoMath have any learning potential?

Image courtesy of PhotoMath

PhotoMath is a new mobile app that allows users to take a picture of a math equation on their phone and instantly receive an answer. As of now the app can only read printed equations. So it’ll be most useful when students encounter a tricky math equation on a textbook. Also the app can solve only arithmetic, fractions, decimals, powers, roots, and linear equations a well as functions like log, exp, sin, cos. This means that it won’t be much help if students are faced with a word problem.

At first the app sounded like a great way to cheat on Math homework. After a little digging around on the PhotoMath homepage, I’ve learned that it does more than pop out an answer. The app also provides a step by step solution to the equation. But does this makes PhotoMath a learning app? I think it does have the potential to become one. One idea to increase its learning potential can be if the app provides the users with similar or more difficult problems after viewing a solutions. This is so that they can use what they’ve learned from the step by step solution and apply it to more advanced equations. This can be a good way to reflect on the original problem for deeper learning.

After reading the PhotoMath blog it was clear to me that they didn’t create the app for cheating. I’m really interested in seeing if this app will be able to solve more advance math concepts like integrals and derivatives. What do math teachers think about the learning potential of PhotoMath? Sound off in the comments section below!

Until next time keep calculating everyone!

Programming Edtech Collection for Young Learners


Image from Donnie Ray Jones of Flickr

Hello everyone, and welcome to the first Edtech Collection blog post! Here is where I’ll gather any edtech resources that I believe are noteworthy to share with teachers and parents. The reason I’m doing this is because whenever I’ve talked to teachers through Twitter chats I would get requests for lists of educational resources on specific subjects. Which is why I’ve decided to start creating these collections of Edtech resources and share them with you all. The most requested subject would be programming which is why this first collection is focused on resources that help build programming skills.

Programming is definitely a subject that many teachers and parents are now starting to teach to young children. But before kids can start learning how to write Java, Html, or C++, it would be beneficial if they first learned programming logic. Some say all kids would benefit from learning programming logic. Thankfully these edtech resources are geared toward younger students and does a great job of teaching them programming logic like program structure, variable declaration, loops, and conditional statements. They also help build important skills like problem solving. These programming resources all capture the younger crowd’s attention by using bright colors and characters. Keeping them engaged as they are learning.

I’ve listed some of the most interesting educational resources that can teach most elementary school students programming logic. Check out the Pinterest board which you can view below.

I’m also sharing a Google Sheet document that contains the collection and includes more information about each resource. This is so that you can copy and paste the programming edtech collection for your reference rather than keeping it confined to this blog. This would also give you a nice start to creating your own edtech collection.

Here is the Programming Edtech Collection for Young Learners:

Note that this isn’t the definitive list. If you’re reading this blog post from the future then check the collection Pinterest board and Google Sheet which will always be updated with any new resources I may find.

If there are any coding edtech resources you would like to add to this list please leave me a comment below. This is just the first of many edtech collections posts, so if you have any feedback or suggestions for next time let me know!

Until next time keep programming everyone.

What Is The Edtech Function? An Introduction Post


Image from Morten Oddvik via Flickr 

The Edtech Function is a site I created to continue my edtech research. I used to work in an educational technology research and development team called Edlab, at Teachers College Columbia University. There I researched, tested, and reviewed many digital educational resources. I enjoyed playing with these educational apps, games, or web tools and thinking of new ways to incorporate them in a classroom. I also used what I’ve learned from reviewing these edtech resources to help create and support educational resources from the Edlab.

In my time as an edtech researcher I have had the chance to meet with many people who create edtech products. I also spoke with many teachers about how and why they should use these resources to support their teaching. I’ve learned a lot about what goes into creating Edtech tools and what teachers want in a resource. So it is with this perspective I will be writing my edtech reviews.

The mission of this website is to discover and review any edtech resource that teachers, parents or anybody else would be interested in using. New educational software and apps are created almost everyday so it may be a bit overwhelming to keep up with them all. The Edtech Function will  highlight and review the most interesting and innovative educational resources.

Why Review Edtech Resources?

I believe that teachers and parents who are looking for digital educational resources would want to know as much as they can about it before spending any time or money on it. As someone who has many teacher family members I understand how many teachers spend their own time and money looking for extra learning resources.

An edtech review can give teachers and parents a better idea of what the learning goal of a resource is and how it will help learners reach that goal. Teachers employ different teaching practices in their classroom that can benefit from some of these educational resources. Teaching practices such as blended learning, floored classrooms, or project based learning. The review will try to elaborate on how a resource can be used in these practices.

What Will These Reviews Look Like?

I plan on having the review broken up into two parts. The first is a chart that includes  some basic information on a resource like what learning topics the resource covers, school level, cost, platform, etc. This is meant to help teachers and parents decide if they want to learn more about it.

The second part is the more in-depth review covering the interesting aspects of the resources, what can be improved, and new ideas. Of course I will always look to make improvements to the review based on teacher’s or parent’s need so feedback is always appreciated.

In addition to the reviews this site will provide teachers, parents, and learners with collections of edtech resources. A collection could consist of math apps or coding learning resources for examples. I love organizing things (I also used to work in a library) and I believe these collections would be useful for many teachers.

I am excited to continue my edtech research and hope that you will join me. My first review will cover a video platform called Glean. Until then keep learning everyone.