In a previous post, I linked to a video on Photomath, the ipod Algebra app. I also posted the above picture showing an equation and its solution. I have some further thoughts about Photomath after I took the time to solve the problem myself using conventional pencil and paper Algebra. Here’s the solution:
As you can see, it required 8 steps to solve for x. The problem is a fairly simple first year Algebra problem. It only looks difficult to those who have either forgotten their high school algebra or are struggling with it. Most of the operations require middle school arithmetic and knowledge of the times tables. The algebra goal here is to isolate x and consolidate everything else on the other side of the equal sign through distribution and division.
Update: 4-14-15: Opps Make that 9 steps. The answer is correct but I didn’t show how I arrived at 5 over 2 from 20 over 8. It was through the Greatest Common Factor or GCF. In this case, the GCF is 4 because 4 is the highest multiple or factor of 8 and is also a multiple or factor of 20. I am far from perfect.
My conclusion is that Photomath would be of limited use for “cheating.” Good math instructors grade on the sequence of steps as well as getting the right answer. Otherwise, it would help students perhaps in the manner of a compass on a road trip.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.