The research on the actual level of computerization of the process of teaching mathematics and related needs.
The surveys by the means of electronic questionnaires developed by Google Forms and by individual interviews was conducted among mathematics teachers, blind and partially sighted pupils and their parents, from mainstream schools, schools with integration divisions and the specialized education centres.
The surveys have shown, among other things, a high level of computerization and internet usage amongst teachers, and they demonstrated significant ignorance of Braille among teachers:
- all the teachers use computers and as many as 71% use them daily;
- almost all teachers use the Internet, and 74% do so every day;
- 40% of them look to the Internet for materials to teach mathematics to visually impaired;
- a very large group of teachers do not know Braille letters (48%) (only public school teachers with or without integration divisions).
Teachers are willing to use new technologies facilitating the teaching process and contacts with blind and partially sighted students:
- teachers decisively (91%) want to know the new technologies which are useful in teaching mathematics;
- the vast majority (90%) would like to implement and use digital tools in their work, if such tools were adapted to the needs.
The surveyed students have shown slightly lower level of use of computer and information technology, and of the Internet (higher level – visually impaired students, lower level – blind), and the percentage of students unfamiliar with Braille is similar to teachers:
- all students use a computer, and 64% of them do it every day (the vast majority are the secondary schools and junior high schools students, mainly visually impaired);
- all students use also the Internet, and 64% of them use it every day;
- only 14% of the students use the Internet to search for materials and aids to learn mathematics;
- the majority of students (51%) use the tablet device or smart phone on a daily basis – however these are primarily the visually impaired students (almost 87%);
- 47% of the students did not know the Braille letters, the remaining 53% of the students know Braille at various levels of proficiency.
This briefly outlined picture of a good computerization and IT use among teachers and students, and their willingness to adopt new technological challenges adjusted to the needs in the field of mathematics, with at the same time recorded in both groups – teachers and students – considerable ignorance of Braille system, create a good background for the adoption of new digital solutions. Innovative in a global scale PlatMat educational platform developed within the aforementioned project, fits perfectly in the context of the existing environment. PlatMat contains tools and mechanisms which were suggested among others by both teachers and students.
Expectations of teachers and students:
- The ability to collect digital versions of convex drawings by the teachers, so that they can be easily printed (eg. on a 3D printer).
- Preparation of database models of geometric shapes for printing on a 3D printer.
- Editors for the student should be able to make text bold, change the font size and change the background color and text.
- Implementation of an electronic coordinate system.
- Implementation of an axis with ability to assign numerical range.
- Automatic archiving for math documents created during lesson time, so that the student (or teacher) could return to it when eg. students make a mistake or erase the data.
- The ability to set the color of syntax mathematical notation.
- The ability to set the color of individual elements in math formulas (eg. numbers, symbols, operations) by users in their profile settings.