Wolfram Alpha is up and running!
The future of education will, I believe, move in a direction that makes use of these tools, but still challenges students to learn and solve difficult multi-step problems.
I was saying to one of my students today that in difficult multi-step problems, knowing the answer is generally not all that helpful – it’s making sense of the answer that is important.
Some skills never go out of style – for instance, just because we have cars, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t learn to walk!
Even though simple calculators are ubiquitous, we should still develop number sense and learn to calculate and work with whole numbers, fractions, decimals and percentages by hand.
The same goes for elementary algebra – once hand-held computer algebra systems become common, I believe that we should still learn the basics of elementary algebra – for the same reason we should learn to compute without a calculator – critical thinking.
We can’t think critically about something we don’t understand.