World-Renowned Mathematician Launches App to Help Children Tackle Times Tables Using ‘Topology of Knowledge' Method
Oxford-based education technology start-up Edplus has launched a mobile app today which allows children to learn their times tables for free in a new way, challenging and complementing traditional teaching methods. Developed by Francis Brown, a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford, the technology uses an algorithm that creates a learning pathway unique to each child, adapting and improving as they play.
Children across the world have been learning their times tables for over 2,000 years, by various methods and with differing degrees of success. Times tables are typically learned by heart in a prescribed order but Edplus incorporates an adaptive algorithm developed by Professor Brown. This permits a more fluid and personalised approach.
The app is now available to download from Google Play Store, App Store and Amazon Apps:
Speaking about the app, Professor Brown explains:
"Instead of dictating an order in which children should learn their times tables, the Edplus algorithm takes a flexible approach. It takes into account the fact that a child may grasp one concept quicker than another without any predefined expectation of what that might be."
"It then builds out from this using the idea of ‘topology of knowledge'. A simple example is if a child shows that they know 2 x 7, the algorithm might introduce the related question 7 x 2. This might sound obvious but the national curriculum only expects children to know their seven times table by the end of year four, some two years after their two times table."
As more questions are answered through Edplus, the topology of knowledge of different children - in other words - a map of what they know and how they learn, is progressively built up. In essence, the software promises to get smarter and more effective with use. Professor Brown, who is more accustomed to the challenges of quantum field theory than multiplication, continues:
"Becoming a father has caused me to question conventional wisdom about elementary maths. I don't want my children to spend four years learning just 78 number facts. Times tables are a basic building block of more advanced mathematics and it is vital that children attain mastery in them as efficiently and enjoyably as possible."
The app coincides with the introduction by the UK government of a nationwide test for year four pupils (age 8-9), starting in the 2019-20 academic year, to assess whether they can recall their multiplication tables fluently.
Edplus - an Oxford University spinout company - has promised to make the times tables component of its app free worldwide. Toby Staveley, CEO at Edplus said:
"We combine a fresh approach to times tables with lots of features to keep children engaged. Times tables are often learned out-of-school where there is a sizeable inequality of opportunity. Our technology makes out-of-school learning easier for parents, more fun for children and can ultimately help reduce the attainment gap."