Mathematica and Wolfram|Alpha Are Revolutionizing Education
Mathematica and Wolfram|Alpha are revolutionizing education. Teachers and students are pretty pumped and starting to envision the possibilities. That was the chatter at our Joint Mathematics Meetings (JMM) 2010 booth in San Francisco this month, as we listened to Mathematica enthusiasts voice their opinions on technology and education.
One key theme is how educators are getting more creative in their classrooms through using interactive examples of the concepts they are teaching. A key resource educators often leverage is the Wolfram Demonstrations Project. I lost count of the number of professors who told me they have been posting Demonstrations within their courseware management systems or using them within Mathematica‘s slide-show feature and requiring students to explore them. And the students love them, which is awesome! Instead of just listening to a lecture or looking at an example in a textbook, they can use Demonstrations for interactive learning that challenges their minds.
As you can imagine, with nearly 6,000 interactive Demonstrations to choose from and more being published all the time, there’s no limit to what teachers can do with them and how interactive learning can change education forever.
Another new trend generating buzz is how students are proactively using Wolfram|Alpha to further their learning. It’s a somewhat controversial notion among academics, but, as Conrad Wolfram, our Director of Strategic Development, argued at the TEDx Brussels conference, it would be cheating not to use Wolfram|Alpha in the classroom. By making math more practical and conceptual, Wolfram|Alpha has become a revolutionary resource that inspires and engages students in ways they never before imagined.
Proof of this was evident, according to MathWorld creator Eric Weisstein. He said that almost everyone he talked with at JMM had used Wolfram|Alpha and was positive about its game-changing effect on education. Eric said that several people talked about writing education-specific guides to Wolfram|Alpha!
Wolfram|Alpha was also featured in a session by Pierce College’s Bruce Yoshiwara called “Life after Wolfram|Alpha (Apocalypse Now?).” Attendees packed into a crowded room for Bruce’s one-hour presentation, which provided a nice look at the dynamics surrounding the early adoption of new classroom technology. Bruce described his experiences using Wolfram|Alpha, including examples of its computational abilities and the puncturing of myths surrounding the engine, and led a thought-provoking Q&A period.
The word is defintely out on how Mathematica and Wolfram|Alpha are revolutionizing education. What are your thoughts? Is the academic community ready for such a revolution? Take part in the discussion by leaving a comment below. We’re always interested in learning what you think.