I chose to watch the online presentation Make Meaning with Wolfram Alpha created by Jane Krauss. It was part of the 2012 K12 Online Conference archives. Krauss’s main educational focus is project based learning. According to her own description,
She hopes to “set up better investigations so students truly construct new meaning” rather than being “recipe-like, leading to predictable, ‘cookie-cutter’ results.”
All of my previous knowledge of Wolfram Alpha is basically as an online computational machine. You can enter in a mathematical problem, and it will spit back the answer to you along with an explanation and/or work. That is what drew me to the presentation since I am a math teacher. But, throughout Krauss’s video, Wolfram Alpha was used as a reliable source of data and not as a calculator. Therefore, it could be used in other courses as well for student research. Wolfram Alpha even cites the data it provides.
Other websites she briefly mentioned are Many Eyes and Tableau Public. These are used to create and borrow infographics. Many eyes is nice in that it provides graph suggestions depending on what type of data you’re hoping to display. Tableau Public is different in that the graphs are more interactive for the viewer.
When I would consider using any of these websites the most is during statistics lessons. Unfortunately that does not happen very often in the courses I currently teach. However, I do plan on adding more statistical concepts to my precalculus curriculum. I would definitely recommend the sites to other teachers at my school looking for reliable online data sources and new ways to create graphs.
The concept of attending a conference while at home is not a new one, but it’s the first time I have ever done it. I did enjoy being able to watch the videos whenever I’d like and pausing if necessary. But, I found the voice of the presenter to be quite monotone and therefore a little boring. Plus, the video was of very low quality; it was difficult for me to read her queries and results in Wolfram Alpha.