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Topic: Using WolfrmaAlpha in the Classroom


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Subject:   RE: Using WolfrmaAlpha in the Classroom
Author: markovchaney
Date: Dec 1 2009
Very interesting stuff. Your second video comes back twice to the type of
question I first heard posed by Bert Waits (emeritus professor of mathematics at
Ohio State) at an NCTM regional conference in Cleveland in Nov. 1997, when he
gave those in attendance a sneak peak at the then soon-to-be-released
TI-89 and posed to the audience, "What will you leave out of your Algebra
syllabus now that this device will be available to kids for under $200?" He
compared it with his experience teaching trigonometric interpolation back in the
'70s and having a student with an early scientific calculator tell him, "You're
an idiot," since the kid could get the answers in seconds (I confirmed my
recollection of this story when I last bumped into Bert in 2004).

Your focus here is on the sorts of homework problems that are mostly
computational and deadly dull, usually given in basketfuls to kids. Your
implication is that such questions are "idiotic" when the technology to crunch
the numbers is there on-line free of charge, so that thoughtful teachers need
to start asking much better questions.

That viewpoint (and I hope I'm not putting words in your mouth, or at least not
ones with which you'd strongly disagree) is one I've been trying to get
mathematics teachers to see in various capacities in which I've worked over the
past decade. I want to get the word out on your project and will post some
things on my blog (rationalmathed.blogspot.com) and a couple of lists. Hope that
helps generate more interest. While I see from your video that there are wider
applications beyond mathematics, that's my personal focus and will leave to
others (or to myself should the opportunity arises) to get the word out to
teachers of other subjects.

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