Friday, May 15, 2009

Wolfram Alpha: Computational Knowledge Engine

Amazing!!
This morning I saw a twitter post from Karl Fisch, the co-creator of the "Did You Know" video. He linked to a blog post he had just finished talking about a new site being released today called WolframAlpha. This is the latest project by Stephen Wolfram, the creator of Mathematica software.

In a 13 minute video, Wolfram demonstrates what he describes as the early stages of a project to make "all systematic knowledge immediately computable by anyone."

As I watched the video, I couldn't help but think of the computer on "Star Trek" answering questions posed to it!

The implications of a site like this for educators and students is startling! Do we really know what our students need to know anymore? How can we harness the power of something like WolframAlpha and the new search features that Google has just incorporated into our teaching and learning?

As Fisch said in his post:

"I wonder whose problem it is if our students don’t know how to question, ask/search, find, evaluate, synthesize, repurpose, remix, and solve problems using tools like Google and Wolfram Alpha?"

How would you use a tool like WolframAlfa in your classroom?
UPDATE: You can learn more from today's Science Friday on NPR.

UPDATE 2: Apparently there were glitches with the release of Wolfram Alpha tonight! Ah, technology!!

UPDATE 3: Here is e-School New's take on the subject. It appears not everybody is happy about Wolfram Alpha. Is it because they are truly concerned about what students need to know, or because they have some skin in the "knowledge-based" learning paradigm?
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