The "computational knowledge engine" Wolfram|Alpha provides much of the functionality of a computer algebra system (CAS) for free to the general public. This makes sense since the service is provided by Wolfram Research, the makers of the CAS Mathematica.

Upon its release in May 2009, Wolfram|Alpha (or Walpha as we'll call it here) stirred interest among mathematics educators since it can handle many of the computational tasks we math educators ask of our students in secondary and undergraduate mathematics courses.

What are the implications of easy student access to Walpha in and out of the mathematics classroom? Time will tell, although Walpha has the potential to make a bigger impact on mathematics instruction than graphing calculators or commercial CASs did. Why? It's relatively easy to use (easier than Mathematica, not as easy as Google), it's free, and it's available online (and thus on student laptops or smart phones).

A few of us interested in exploring the implications of Walpha on secondary and undergraduate mathematics education thought it might be useful to have a wiki where math educators could contribute documentation regarding Walpha's use in such teaching contexts. In particular, we're interested in documenting how Walpha can handle or help with handling common problems asked of students in these courses, as well as how Walpha might be used as an instructional tool when teaching students about related content.

We're just getting started, but feel free to see what we've documented thus far. If you're interested in contributing, request to join the site. You can also talk about Walpha in education on the Forum, and comment on particular pages by clicking on the "discussion" link at the bottom of each page.

Derek Bruff

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