## Wednesday, August 20, 2008

### Mathway: It Solves Math Problems

I just bumped into Mathway on a tech coordinator listserv that I get. It is an interesting site. You can enter math problems that range from basic math through calculus and it give you the answer. Good or Bad? I don't know.

I began by entering a formula, -3y+3x=-7(x+3) (don't be impressed, I found it on the page). It asked me what class I was taking that required me to complete such a task and I selected Pre-Algebra. I clicked on the Answer button.

I progressed to a second page where it gave me a wide selection of what to do with the equation. Look to the right and you can see the variety of opportunities that I have available to me.

As an ignorant purist, I decided to continue with the more mundane opportunity which was to Solve the Equation. It asked me which variable I wanted to "solve for." I selected y.

The next page (see left) was a total surprise to me. It did SOOOOO much more than just give the value of y. It took me on a step-by-step progression through what one would do to "solve for y". It showed each step, explained what needed to be done, and even had hyperlinks to a glossary for words that I didn't understand. WOW!!!

As if this wasn't enough . . . it graphed the answer for me.

There was even code for embedding this equation and linking to the answer from my blog (see below). This will be terrific for teachers/students who want to instruct how to complete specific equations online.

QUESTION: Is this a good t
hing?

Is it a good thing to give away the answers like this? Will students use this website instead of their own ingenuity to complete their homework? Will this be used for cheating on tests?

Probably!!!

There will be learners . . .no . . . students who use this site inappropriately. I call them students instead of learners because they won't be learning anything if they use this site to cheat. BUT if they use this site to help walk them through math problems that they are learning to complete in class, this site could be QUITE valuable. It is the next step after putting the answers to all of the odd-numbered problems in the back of the textbook.

This is the sort of interactive site that can place the learner at the center of his/her education. This is where the serious learner can access individualized tutorials to improve personal learning.