Keynote Lectures

Theme: Mathematical and Computational Thinking

Keynote 1 (Plenary) :
ChatGPT: Friend or Foe?

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Professor Ben Leong

Director of the AI Centre for Educational Technologies (AICET)
National University of Singapore

Biography. Ben Leong is currently an Associate Professor of Computer Science at the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Director of the AI Centre for Educational Technologies (AICET) at AISingapore, where his team applies AI to build software platforms for education. He is also concurrently Director of the Centre for Computing for Social Good & Philanthropy (CCSGP) at School of Computing (SoC). From July 2014 to June 2019, Ben served as the Director of the Experimental Systems and Technology Laboratory at the Ministry of Education (MOE).

Abstract. ChatGPT has had an significant impact on many domains since its public release in November 2022. Teaching has not been spared. Plagiarism has become more rampant and much harder to detect. Educators worldwide are scrambling to respond to this new development.

In this talk, we will describe what we currently know about what ChatGPT (and other Large Language Models) can do and how these properties might impact teaching and education at large.

In general, ChatGPT and its ilk is a reality that is here to stay, instead of resisting change, teachers will likely be better off learning to embrace this new reality. We will discuss some plausible responses in our classroom teaching.

Keynote 2 (Primary):
Computational thinking in primary mathematics: What’s there to learn?

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Professor Katie Makar

President of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia (MERGA)
The University of Queensland

Biography. Katie Makar is the President of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia (MERGA) and Professor of Mathematics and Statistics Education at The University of Queensland, Australia. Professor Makar is co-director of the International Collaborative for Statistical Reasoning, Thinking and Literacy. Prior to her PhD, she was a classroom teacher for 15 years in USA, Malaysia and Nepal and holds a masters degree in pure mathematics.

Professor Makar’s classroom-based research explores primary teachers’ adoption over time of inquiry-based pedagogies to address complex, ambiguous problems in mathematics, statistics and more recently data science. The findings of her nationally-funded research over the past 15 years have led to multiple international awards due to its impact and pragmatic application in classrooms. Katie has been a consultant for the Queensland Department of Education, Australian Academy of Science and education companies in the USA and New Zealand. In these roles, she has co-designed curriculum materials and provided professional development for primary and secondary teachers to support learners’ knowledge transfer to contemporary problems that rely on mathematical and data-based evidence.

Abstract. As we move deeper into the digital age, technologies provide new access to problems once considered too difficult for children. Computational thinking provides a contemporary approach to build skills needed to address complex problems that take advantage of computing power. What is computational thinking and how do we support learners to develop its most critical skills in primary mathematics? In this talk, I will use a practical example from a recent study of primary children investigating their use of cyberspace to introduce the key tenets of computational thinking for a primary mathematics classroom.

Overall, this keynote presentation will provide primary school teachers with an appreciation of the importance of computational thinking in mathematics education. We will see how computational thinking can help students develop critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and a rich understanding of mathematical concepts. We will explore practical strategies for integrating computational thinking into primary mathematics education and highlight the benefits that this can bring to students as they prepare for the challenges of the digital age.

Keynote 3 (Secondary and Junior College):
Teaching Mathematics to Computer Science Students

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Professor Achim Jung

Emeritus Professor of Computer Science
The University of Birmingham
United Kingdom

Biography. Achim Jung received his education in Mathematics and Computer Science at the Technical University Darmstadt, under the supervision of Klaus Keimel. His work focuses on the mathematical foundations of computer science, in the tradition of Dana Scott’s domain theory and denotational semantics, using methods from order theory, topology, and the lambda calculus. In 1995, he accepted the offer of a chair in the School of Computer Science at the University of Birmingham, UK, where he has been based ever since. He served as chairman of the department twice, 1997-2000 and 2008-2012. He became an Emeritus Professor in 2021.

Abstract. For most of my time as a Professor of Computer Science, I have taught mathematical subjects to computer science students, such as set theory, linear algebra, probability theory, statistics, automata theory, and others. The importance of sound mathematical foundations may be evident to a researcher in computer science, but it is not at all obvious to an undergraduate student, and thus these subjects pose a particular challenge to the teacher. In this talk I will explain the approach I took in my lectures, emphasizing in particular the connections between mathematics and computing. In doing so, I will refer frequently to the work of my late teacher Rudolf Wille, whose “Restructuring Mathematics” programme has been a guide and inspiration for my own teaching philosophy.

Keynote 4 (Primary):
Mathematical Thinking: Task Design and Implementation in the Primary Mathematics Classrooms

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Dr Cheng Lu Pien

Mathematics and Mathematics Education AG
National Institute of Education
Nanyang Technological University

Biography. Dr. Cheng Lu Pien is a Senior Lecturer with the Mathematics and Mathematics Education Academic Group and the Assistant Dean for Continuing Education at the Office of Graduate Studies and Professional Learning, National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. She specializes in mathematics education courses for primary school teachers and supervises postgraduate students. Her research interests include the professional development of primary school mathematics teachers, teaching and learning of mathematics, reflective practice, innovative teaching practice and task design in mathematics education.

Abstract. Mathematical thinking is an important learning goal across the world. This lecture will discuss how mathematical thinking can be integrated into primary mathematics classrooms in Singapore by considering task design and implementation to support students on their path to thinking about mathematics with flexibility.

Keynote 5 (Secondary and Junior College):
I am afraid of technology

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Professor Tay Eng Guan

Mathematics and Mathematics Education AG
National Institute of Education
Nanyang Technological University

Biography. Tay Eng Guan is an Associate Professor in the Mathematics and Mathematics Education Academic Group of the National Institute of Education at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Dr. Tay obtained his Ph.D. in the area of graph theory from the National University of Singapore. He has continued his research in graph theory and mathematics education and has published in both fields. His areas of research in mathematics education are mathematical problem solving, curriculum development, commognition theory, and computational thinking. Dr Tay has taught in Singapore junior colleges and also served a stint in the Ministry of Education. He was a member of the steering committee for the review of the Singapore Secondary School Mathematics Curriculum and is currently a member of the steering committee for the review of the Junior College curriculum. He will co-chair a Topic Study Group on Computational Thinking in the upcoming 2024 ICME conference in Sydney. He was also a member of the Mathematics Senior Advisory Group for PISA 2021.

Abstract. Ten years ago, I was in a car with three other graph theorists – none of us had a mobile phone. Fear of technology to some is understandable and to others is absurd. The way forward is to acknowledge the unease and to learn from others how to effectively use the technology. Coding is one such aspect of technology. Computational thinking remains theoretical until actualized as a computer program. In this talk, we will ease teachers into coding by giving a number of relevant secondary and junior college mathematics examples. We will work on simple VBA coding in the familiar Microsoft Excel environment.

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