Education ∪ Math ∪ Technology

Day: September 13, 2010 (page 1 of 1)

What is Wolfram Alpha?

These are just some brief notes on the Wolfram Alpha presentation I attended today. Here’s the entire presentation if you want to download it (no audio, just slides) and here if you want to view it online.

  • Search engine layered on top of Mathematica
  • Computation driven so much different than Google
  • App for Smartphones, very useful as a mobile device
  • Widget builder (Beta phase, launch in October?)
  • Wolfram Alpha API (used in Bing for example)
  • Uses in education:
    1. Visual aid
    2. Walk students through solution
    3. Compare, combine, correlate data
    4. Focus students on a particular concept using widgets
    5. Promotes Socratic learning
    6. Interdiscplinary lessons are easier because of internal mapping to other disciplines
    7. See examples here:
    8. Chemistry, biology, geography, every discipline has an example query in Wolfram Alpha.

Wolfram Alpha is going to change how we teach mathematics as it gains wide spread adoption. We won’t be able to ask questions at lower order thinking when students have access to it because students will be able to query the Wolfram Alpha computational database and have the complete solutions to the problems given to them. We will need to focus on higher order thinking skills instead.


Using Glass in Education

Update: It looks like Glass has been discontinued.


Glass is a new web service which is opening up by invite only at this point. I just discovered it today, and I’m thrilled with the possibilities. Think of Glass as social bookmarking combined with a discussion forum embedded on every website you visit. You can share text comments, links to other websites, even videos on any web page.

Glass also allows you to create groups of users, and share a particular resource with a group. These groups could be useful as you could create a group of your students, and share a discussion about an online resource with an entire group of students.

The potential for collaboration and discussion using Glass is amazing. I wouldn’t use it to replace discussions that you can easily have in person, but it could be a great homework assignment. It can also be a way for students to ask questions with you about a website, and the comments themselves can be embedded within the context of the page as you can specify the location on the page you want the comment to be.

Teachers could use this to evaluate common resources and discuss ideas they have around a particular piece of content available on the web. Students could work in groups and comment on videos in a more private fashion as each comment is available only to the person that is part of the group.

It only works in Google Chrome or Firefox. Check out this video below for more details and here’s another post that discusses Glass in more detail.

Revamping Mathematics Curriculum

What if we revamped the mathematics curriculum to match the style of teaching Dan Meyer recommends? What would that look like? Watch the @ddmeyer video below from his TED talk, and then let’s look at how we can make specific changes to our own teaching practice, and talk about whether or not these are changes worth making.

I’m sure we are all guilty of creating problems for our students which are too well defined. I know I have. I’m trying to change how I do my own teaching practice, but it is always helpful to do this with a team of other people. Does anyone want to jump in and help take a set of math curriculum and turn it into something which is more useful for our students’ learning? Let’s create a problem forming curriculum instead of a strict problem solving curriculum?

I’m putting the call out to collaborators here (or for anyone to point me at a similar project with which I can join efforts). Please check out and ask for an invite to the wiki if you are interested in helping with the mathematics curriculum revamp.