Wolfram|Alpha Goes to College
Hello, fellow readers of the Wolfram|Alpha Blog—my name’s Justin. In just a few short weeks, I’ll be graduating from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Over the years I’ve found my own way of getting things done in regards to homework and studying routines. But this semester I realized there were tools available that would make studying and completing assignments easier and help me understand better. One tool that has become increasingly valuable in my routine and those of other students on my campus is Wolfram|Alpha. Recently, I was invited to share how Wolfram|Alpha is being used by students like myself.
Being a marketing major, I had to take some finance and accounting courses, but I was a bit rusty with the required formulas and the overall understanding of the cash flow concepts, such as future cash flows and the net present values of a future investment. A friend recommended I check out Wolfram|Alpha’s finance tools, and they’ve became indispensable in my group’s casework for the semester. Each proposed future investment we were met with, we would go directly to Wolfram|Alpha to compute the cash flows. We even went as far to show screenshots, such as the one below, of inputs and outputs in our final case presentation last week.
I’ve met other students on my campus who have found Wolfram|Alpha to be helpful in their courses. A few months ago while studying in the library, I walked by a table of freshman students all using Wolfram|Alpha on their laptops. I decided to stop and chat with them because I knew one of the girls. They explained how they were using Wolfram|Alpha to model functions and check portions of their math homework. All three girls are enrolled in Calculus III, and not exactly overjoyed about the fact of future— and most likely harder—math classes.
Christin, one of the girls and a freshman at the University of Illinois, explained that they put this study group together and tend to meet once a week. She said, “I learned about Wolfram|Alpha from a friend last semester in class. It is very helpful in leading me in the right direction and by showing step-by-step processes on how to solve problems in my homework or just to check my answers. It has become a useful and valuable tool in completing my math homework. I love it!” Below is an example of the types of model functions they were working through in Wolfram|Alpha:
My friend Kelsey is a senior at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and an undergraduate assistant at the Writing Center. She explained how she uses Wolfram|Alpha many times per week while tutoring and collaborating with students on their papers. She finds that the word web and synonym network can be extremely useful in helping students vary their word choices.
“I usually hesitate to direct students to a thesaurus because they don’t always offer an appropriate synonym. In using Wolfram Alpha, however, I can avoid that problem by seeing the definition and synonym web all on the same page. In addition to being an excellent tool to recommend to students, I find that I use it in my own writing as well,” said Kelsey
Here’s one of Wolfram|Alpha’s words and linguistics examples:
These are just a few examples of how college students like myself are using Wolfram|Alpha as a learning tool. Now that my college career is coming to an end, I look back and think about all of the cool ways I could have used Wolfram|Alpha in earlier courses. If you need some help getting started with Wolfram|Alpha, I’d suggest checking out some helpful posts that I’ve previously appreciated on this blog, such as “College is Hard. Wolfram|Alpha Makes It Easier”, “Chemistry 101 Review”, “Wolfram|Alpha for Astronomy”, “Consult Wolfram|Alpha for Your Next Writing Assignment”, and many more.