CAS status in Austria
The situation in Austria is characterized by a very early start in the CAS-era. With little tradition in the use of graphic calculators in Austria, the use of CAS in math education and in secondary schools started with the purchase of a national license for Derive™ in the early nineties. This was initiated by the Austrian government, the late Eduard Sziruscek from the Ministry of Education and Helmut Heugl, who continues to be a major force in maths education in Austria.
In 1992 the first DERIVE-conference in Krems brought together math educators from all over the world for the first exchange of experience related to the use of CAS in secondary schools and at university entrance level. Helmut Heugl and a group of enthusiast teachers founded the ACDCA (Austrian Centre of Didactics of Computer Algebra) to encourage teachers to modify their teaching practice to incorporate use of the new tools. Since then four nationwide ACDCA projects have been launched with the aim of supporting teachers in this new CAS-era. In the initial years activities mainly focused on training teachers how to use CAS and on the production of attractive teaching materials. Previous and current ACDCA projects include investigations into the impact of CAS-supported teaching on the culture of problems and teaching, the effect of CAS on assessment and the shift in competencies for students and teachers (e.g. competence of methods, competence of recognizing structures and patterns, competence of designing and grading open question problems, …).
All of these activities were supported by the Austrian government, the Pedagogical Institutes and school authorities in the federal states.
When the TI-92 entered the market the projects were opened for handheld CAS and the number of involved students and educators increased immediately, because CAS could be used without having PCs available. Cooperation with T3™ (Teachers Teaching with Technology™) proved to be very fruitful and made many pre- and in service courses possible.
At the moment we estimate that 25-30% of secondary school students (age 15 - 19) have access to CAS and this percentage is continuously growing. Additionally textbook authors and publishers have started including CAS in their textbooks. The fact that Austria does not have common externally set examinations and that teachers have wide scope in curriculum delivery allows for experimentation in the use of CAS in the classroom and for assessment.
The results of the four ACDCA-projects and numerous CAS-oriented papers can be downloaded from the website www.acdca.ac.at.