Hope William-Smith

Whoever said that maths can’t be fun? Certainly no one from Cherrybrook Technology High School in Sydney’s North West. Head of Mathematics, Eddie Woo, has become a Youtube sensation with his cleverly coined ‘Wootube’ – a maths learning channel of instructional videos has been viewed more than 850 000 times in more than 220 countries.

For Mr Woo, providing digital learning is the key to engaging the interest of his students and getting his message across in the classroom. For Year 11 student Brittany Ross, this has paid off.

“Mr Woo is a really dedicated teacher and will easily go out of his way to give his students help,” said Brittany.

With videos ranging from instructional mathematical lessons to ‘a day in the life of a maths teacher’, Eddie Woo is generating theoretical and practical content in a whole new way.

What have you learnt about the power of your role as an educator from Wootube becoming so successful?

“I’ve learned that educators have more opportunities than ever to help a broad range of students through the use of very simple and common technologies. Though I’m only one teacher, I’ve had the privilege of being able to interact with and guide the learning of thousands of students from all over the world. People truly love to learn, and when we as educators put the right tools in peoples’ hands, they will do so with great dedication. One of the most surprising things I’ve discovered is how much other teachers have benefited from the channel. The simple act of opening up my classroom and the way I teach has been helpful to pre-service, early-career and even experienced teachers”.

How does engagement with technology aid critical thinking in maths?

“Technology enables us to visualise and interact with mathematics in new and very helpful ways. Dynamic graphing software allows students to understand the behaviour of mathematical models under different conditions, allowing them to focus on the meaning and implications of those models. Spreadsheets and geometry packages allow students to focus on meaningful patterns and logical connections rather than being held up with the calculations and constructions often needed to gain those insights”.

What are the perpetual benefits of face-to-face teaching?

“The central role of every teacher is not to deliver information, but to guide the social process of learning. The job of a teacher is to ignite students’ ambitions, to challenge their assumptions, and to excite them to want to learn. They do this by ensuring that every student individually feels that they are important and accountable for doing the work of learning. These are all things that can be done most effectively when teachers are face-to-face with the students in their care. Technology can do a lot to support this process, but personal interactions are so woven into who we are as human beings that we will always be able to learn socially when we are in a physical community where we are present with our teachers and co-learners”.