John McGowan, Product Manager

The power of prediction: EquatIO flips the math teaching paradigm

If you’re over 40, you probably bought your first cell phone to make voice calls while you were out and about. Then you discovered this great thing called texting. Suddenly you could tell a friend or client you’re running late, without the embarrassment of having to call. It could even predict what you were typing, and correct your mistakes. How cool was that?

Paradigms are made to be broken. And school teachers are waking up to the realization that their students interact with the world very differently today.

Quiz the average teenager on how they use their smartphone: their response may surprise you. Many young people scarcely make any voice calls these days. What’s more, texting is increasingly shunned, with more teens exclusively using social media platforms like Instagram or Snapchat to keep in daily contact.

We have to recognize that young people use different workflows to access, process and share information. And as educators we don’t need to fight that trend. The real goal for students – as it’s always been – is to understand the world better, and make useful decisions based on those insights, however they’ve been obtained.

So what’s the takeaway for teaching math? As classroom study goes digital, it’s vital that learning embraces these new communication paradigms. The arrival of pocket calculators in the 1970s sounded the certain death-knell of numeracy for many teachers. But within a few years, calculators were a common sight during assessments for math and science subjects.

EquatIO is our newly-launched Chrome extension that makes creating mathematical expressions a snap on computers or Chromebooks. Students can enter basic equations – or more complex formulas – using their keyboards, voice or handwritten entry on a touchscreen. And just like predictive texting on your smartphone, EquatIO guesses what you’re trying to say, correcting errors and cleaning up messy input.

It’s a change in mindset for anyone who trained in the era of worksheets and whiteboards. But with EquatIO, there’s a fresh chance for math teachers and their students to speak the same language.

Share your experiences using EquatIO with your students in the comments section below!


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