Of late, YouTube has been hosting many math videos, most of which give step by step explanations to a standard algebra or calculus problem. The Open Courseware project from MIT has posted many of their calculus lectures there as well. And it’s all free!
I can pretty much type in a search term for a suitable math problem in Google and – voila – a solution will pop up. Sites like algebrahelp.com will solve many algorithmic type algebra problems for free.
I see this as an opportunity – using class time to examine more conceptual exercises and thought provoking application problems – the ones that are typically at the end of exercise sets. Even though I spend class time going over rote skills, having all sorts of online ancillaries which can do this 24/7, has freed up some class time for thinking about math. In my dev. math class, I discuss the digital camera issues that I wrote about earlier.
In a traditional setup for precalculus and developmental math, I suppose one could get by with just doing online homework and watching videos. Who needs to read a book (electronic or print)?
However, developing thinking and reasoning skills are what will guarantee success for my students as they move on to to higher level classes. These classes will not have the luxury of professionally made videos podcasts and online to to supplement learning. Students will have to have the knowledge to read and understand text (whether print or online). This is a skill that only a live instructor can hope to instill.