March 2008

NIIT + Innovation = Math Lab!

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Making Math easy is something most of us identify as a good thing. In the case of NIIT and the US-based Key Curriculum Press Inc, a leading player in the field of software research and development for Math education, have teamed up to launch a software called Math Lab, that enables school students to learn and explore mathematical concepts and verify mathematical facts and theorems using technology tools.

The school curriculum governing body, the National Council of Education Research and Training (NCERT), through the National Curriculum Framework has indicated that Mathematics as a subject will be treated as a prime focus area in schools, till 2010, with an emphasis on increasing the subject's visual appeal and creating an enjoyable learner experience for school students. In alignment with this agenda, the apex body for secondary education in schools, CBSE, has issued directives to all schools following the CBSE curriculum to install a Math Lab for promoting the subject. Additionally, as per the CBSE directive, 20% of the marks will be allocated to each student from the Math Lab assessments, towards the final marks.

Conceived as a dynamic construction and exploration tool that spans the current mathematical curriculum and is being made available to Indian schools, jointly by NIIT and Key Curriculum Press, will offer multiple teaching and learning aids comprising of technology applications, videos, manipulative and measuring instruments and tables to schools. Based on three fundamentals that are Imagination, Investigation and Interaction, NIIT's Math Lab provides students of basic mathematical and geometrical concepts an opportunity to engage in activities that allow them to understand, internalise, discover, and verify.

Additionally, the software utilises concrete objects and situations, thus building interest and confidence in students learning the subject. The laboratory also allows and encourages the students to think, discuss amongst themselves and with the teacher, and assimilate concepts. Using tools such as 'The Geometer's Sketchpad (GSP),' together with hands-on activities using a wide variety of mathematical models, students will be able to construct an object and explore its mathematical properties through an exciting visual process; a process that would help in building a strong foundation in Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometry, algebra, trigonometry, pre-calculus and calculus.

Currently, Maths as a subject is taught mostly in a 'paper-pencil' mode. GSP allows students to construct objects, drag points and lines with the mouse. As the shapes and their positions change, all mathematical relationships are preserved and students can examine entire sets of similar cases in a short span of time.

Launched in 1991 in the US, GSP is currently used by over 25% of all secondary schools in the US. GSP has also been localised and published in Japanese, Arabic, French, German, Spanish, Korean, Danish, Slovenian, Czech, Swedish, Hebrew and Hungarian. Plans for Indian languages are currently being discussed, as part of NIIT's initiative.  

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