The Reflective Educator

Education ∪ Math ∪ Technology

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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: http://www.wolframalpha.com/examples/
    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.