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Homework - December 3, 2009
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Spiked Math Comic - Homework

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This one is totally lost on me. It seems like a correctly carried out computation to me, but then again, it was a while since I read math.

the joke is that he used the internet instead of solving the problem himself

Yeah, this kinda breaks some homeworks, though they should be testing understanding rather than rote learning. Also, if it's this easy to do in real life, why are we trying to get people to memorise it? The important part is knowing *where* and *how* to apply this knowledge (& understanding the meaning) ;-)

Yeah, but if you've just been plugging all your homework into Wolfram Alpha, you're kind of screwed when it comes time to take an in-class test.

Unless you're just using Wolfram Alpha to teach you *how* to solve these integrals, in which case I don't really see anything wrong with it.

Yeah, in-class tests will be hard to do. But after then? I guess any place I'll have to work at will have access to the internet, so personally I see little point in learning things that can be done with widely available tools like WolframAlpha and Wikipedia.
It's like learning how to drive in a screw with your bare hands. Surely a useful skill, but why bother if there are tools to do just that?
Education should shift its focus from using students as tape recorders (during class: "Equation #123 is B=A+C*D"; during test: "What is equation #123?") to teaching and requiring problem-solving skills.

Getting people to learn to do such things is more about expanding and exercising the brain, the more we rely on technology the lower out capacity to think overall, and as such our general problem solving ability disappears. By learning things you can apply them whenever, wherever they are required.

still is awsome, that wolfram alpha:)

i'll have to try doing this sometime.

This would be a step up for my students. At least they would be copying the correct answers instead of the sloppy, poorly-done homework of the guy next to them.
On the plus side, this would prove that they had a web connection and thus I could force them to go to the class blog more often.

The modern day CAS (computer Algebra System eg TI Nspire) student grabs a screen capture and emails that in...

Now let's try a difficult one...

Oh, NOW I get it. Okay, that was pretty fun.

More complicated problems give an answer without offering to show steps, for example:
integrate 1/(1+ln(x))

Pretty funny, turning in a photoshopped screen capture for homework.

Oh great! On the day that I finish high school I get the most useful homework scam tip ever. But, then again, it wouldn't have helped me much anyway because I'd mistrust all the answers and spend more time double checking it than it would have taken me to do the homework myself from scratch.

It can also take more complicated input, such as:

integrate sqrt(x squared + y squared) with respect to x and y
integrate r from r = 0 to r = R and theta = 0 to theta = 2*pi

this is completely valid, because wolfram|alpha is probably not so popular as to be marked on your instruction sheet as a restricted source...loopholes ftw!!

Relying on outside sources to provide answers can lead to dangerous results. Can you design a bridge that will carry loads over varying types of terrain? Can you learn to pilot an airplane simply by reading how to do it? No book (or Wolfram) can account for every variable in real life.

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Hello my fellow math geeks. My name is Mike and I am the creator of Spiked Math Comics, a math comic dedicated to humor, educate and entertain the geek in you. Beware though, there might be some math involved :D

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