Today let us present you the impressive story of the TEM (Technology in Mathematics Education) Group from the Faculty of Education and Humanities at the University of Zulia (LUZ), Maracaibo, Venezuela.
Juan Luis Prieto, Rafael Luque and a few other enthusiastic math professors decided to form the TEM Group in November 2011 because they realized their students needed more up-to-date knowledge and skills in addition to their regular curriculum. Initially, their main aim simply was to offer them space for reflection on mathematical concepts and the methods to teach them.
Soon enough they identified technology in math education as a major topic that is really necessary for their students. Similarly to other Latin American countries, in Venezuela the Bolivarian Government has decided to distribute computers to schools and children in order to provide the conditions for the integration of technology into education. They have given out about 3 million laptops to primary students. However, it remained necessary for teachers to develop skills and knowledge to apply them in their teaching practice.
Juan Luis claims that GeoGebra was a pretty obvious choice for them because of it being open source, accessible to everyone and easy to use. This is how it all started.
By today they have developed five scopes of action “Líneas de acción” as they call them and they structure their work along these lines:
- Professional development for teachers and educators. They develop and organize GeoGebra workshops where teachers get an opportunity to re-think the way they teach mathematics and integrate modern technologies as tools to make their practice more effective. In 2012 they had 160 participants, among them there were primary school teachers, secondary school teachers of math, physics and technical drawing, pedagogical coordinators and students of math education.
- Developing resources for teachers. They create GG activities and theoretical guidelines as well as technological resources for the workshops to hand out for teachers. These tool-kits help teachers see the mathematical content they need to teach in their classes in a new light.
- Continuous self-study. The members of the TEM Group keep asking themselves: what do they need to learn themselves in order to better help their students? Towards that end they hold self-study groups led by TEM members and they invite national and international experts to assist them as “critical friends”.
- Investigation- They build their projects of investigation- aiming at understanding better the processes that work in the improvement of math education – on the results of and conclusions from their workshops. Their university students, students of math education are integrated members of their group. The students are working on their own research projects, currently there are five in progress. Last year they presented for example at the Latin American GeoGebra Congress in Montevideo, Uruguay and in early 2013 at the International Pedagogical Conference in La Habana, Cuba. They are going to publish their results in their university’s journal as well as the GeoGebra Journal of the GeoGebra Institute in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
- Social action- In addition to the narrowly science-related work the TEM Group also organizes awareness campaigns for making students more sensitive to social issues and problems of the education system. The explicit aim is to get their students more deeply committed so that they can apply the knowledge and skills they get from TEM for the improvement of education in underdeveloped regions.
If you are interested in learning more about the TEM group or if you would like to cooperate with them you can reach them through their facebook page or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org