Stephen Wolfram has recently announced the availability of the first of a planned series of “course assistant” apps: An App for Every Course, and More. These apps, which are powered by Wolfram|Alpha and cost $1.99 (£1.19) for Algebra and Music Theory and $2.99 (£1.79) for Calculus, have the potential to allowing students and teachers to do a lot more interesting stuff in lectures, seminars and examples classes than the traditional “chalk and talk”. It’ll be interesting to see if they turn out to be game changers.
I was already intending to use Wolfram|Alpha in one of my courses next term. I may just shell out a fiver to acquire the algebra and calculus apps.
An interesting question for me is this: if we and our students have such sophisticated tools available to us, why do we insist on cutting them off from all of their tools except paper and pen (we don’t even allow them to use their own calculators) and assessing students in a closed-book examinations? What are we really assessing?
The screenshots, reproduced from Stephen’s post (I hope that that’s OK), show the home screen and results screen for the Calculus Assistant. To find out more, the home page for the apps collection is here. Power users can acquire the Wolfram|Alpha app for $1.99 (£1.19) and there are loads of educational resources for Wolfram|Alpha which is powered by Mathematica.
Thanks to Tony Hirst’s blog for the link.