An App for Every Course, and More
The long-term goal is to have an assistant app for every major course, from elementary school to graduate school. And the good news is that Wolfram|Alpha has the breadth and depth of capabilities to make this possible—and not only in traditionally “computational” kinds of courses.
The concept of these apps is to make it as quick and easy as possible to access the particular capabilities of Wolfram|Alpha relevant for specific courses. Each app is organized according to the major curriculum units of a course. Then within each section of the app, there are parts that cover each of the particular types of problems relevant to that unit.
The really important thing, of course, is that Wolfram|Alpha can actually solve these problems. It’s not just giving a certain set of canned results; it’s actually computing the solution to whatever specific problem it’s asked.
And what’s more—in typical Wolfram|Alpha style—it doesn’t give a basic answer; it also generates all sorts of additional information that’s relevant for understanding the answer. And in math, for example, it’s often also able to show the steps that a person could follow if they wanted to work out the answer by hand.
In a sense the ultimate idea of our course assistant apps is to provide automated expert tutoring for anyone anywhere. They’re also a good way to “scope out” what’s involved in a course, and work out as many examples as one wants.
For teachers, one of the interesting things is that the course assistant apps don’t just do elementary examples: they handle the real-world cases too. So it becomes possible to explore concepts in much more realistic settings.
The course assistant apps that we’re releasing today are a small sample of what’s to come.
Over the next few months, we’ll be rolling out all sorts of course assistant apps (and we’d be happy to get suggestions for courses to tackle early!). We’ll be covering courses not only in the sciences but also in the humanities and in many professional areas. In fact, as we’ve reviewed popular courses and trends in the material they cover, we’ve been quite amazed at how broadly relevant Wolfram|Alpha is.
And actually, course assistant apps are just one corner of our large-scale program of deploying Wolfram|Alpha in the most convenient way for every different kind of user and usage. We’ve been having a lot of fun recently taking the technology platform that is Wolfram|Alpha and figuring out all the ways it can be deployed in the modern computational world.
Some of it is fairly obvious, some surprising. But the depth and breadth of opportunities is incredible.
Today’s course assistant apps are the first new releases for Wolfram|Alpha in 2011. There are a lot of exciting things to come. Stay tuned!