Sometimes, new sites and systems don’t improve learning

Opinions expressed in editorials on The Central Trend are the view of the individual writer and are not the opinion of the entire staff of The Central Trend or the Forest Hills Central staff or administration.

It seems like every year of schooling means a new and ‘improved’ math site to supposedly make learning easier. Big Ideas Math is this year’s site-of-the-year, while DeltaMath—also an online math site—has been pushed to the background. 

In my opinion, math is learned best when you make mistakes, figure out what that mistake was, and see good examples. This process is how math is best understood. Mistakes are the best teacher, so DeltaMath is so great. You see your mistakes, and you have another problem to try right away. If you get stuck, it has excellent examples shown right there for you. Where is all of this in Big Ideas? 

When you boot up Big Ideas and get into your assignment, you are given a question and a box to fill in the answer and a “check answer” box. However, there is no “show example” option, and there is no instant feedback. You have to turn all of your questions in at once, and then it tells you the answers. Big Ideas Math lacks the trial and error part of learning from mistakes in math.

It’s clear that DeltaMath is more practical, so why are we still using this new site? I’ve been told teachers can more easily link accounts and put grades right from Big Ideas right into Canvas. 

So while this site impedes a student’s quality of learning, it is still used because it interacts smoothly with our new Learning Management System: Canvas. This doesn’t seem like a valid reason to use it.

Math is learned best when you make mistakes.

I understand that changing to new systems can be awkward and clunky sometimes, but we can fight through that if the site is clearly better for student learning? The district eliminated Google Classroom for Canvas, and I haven’t heard one good thing said about it since. 

It’s hard to tell if the district is actually listening to kids regarding issues like this. It gets to a point where the teachers can’t control what they use, and we can’t blame them. This is a district-level problem. I know we’re just kids, but we might be the best ones to survey regarding changes to our learning environment.

Big Ideas Math isn’t a positive change. Again, I understand the teachers have their hands tied, so this editorial is in no way against them. They put hard work into lesson plans and then have to work around higher-level decisions.

I just wish we were asked about new systems that impact us directly. After all, we are the ones who have to use this software for 3/4 of the year.