Saturday, May 16, 2009

Wolfram Alpha thoughts

I have spent quite a bit of time with Wolfram Alpha today. It is going to be interesting to introduce this to teachers and students. The user really needs to think about the appropriate time to choose this tool for information.

I suggest you spend a bit of time on the examples page. As you click through the examples, there is a description of the type of search that can be conducted in the search box based on the topic you have chosen. This is a great way to help users to learn the most appropriate use of the tool and the proper syntax for searches.

I have discovered a couple of really cool features about Wolfram Alpha. First, at least on the Mac side, in both Firefox and Safari, a student can simply drag any of the information boxes off of the WA site and the item winds up as a GIF on their computer desktop. It can easily be inserted in a project. (Even all the tables wind up being GIFS!) The student can then add the citation information needed for the GIF they are using.

Secondly, all of the source information (both Web-based and print) consulted for that topic is included as a link at the bottom of the results page to both allow for further research and for determining the reliability and credibility of the results. I so love this!!!