I have been teaching high school mathematics for roughly 10 years, and I have seen the role of technology used in various different ways by both students and teachers. In recent years, I have noticed more and more students using technology to cheat to answer questions on both homework and tests. While it is very difficult to find out if students are cheating on homework, it is often easy to catch students using cell phones during a test. Often when students are cheating with their cell phones, they are using programs such as Mathway or Wolfram Mathematics. While some students use these resources in a negative way, these programs could prove to be very beneficial to students if they are used in an ethical way.

I always tell my students that I use the Internet to obtain answers for math classes that I took during my graduate coursework. The difference between that and cheating is I would get the answer, but then I would attempt to understand why that is an answer. In the old days before the Internet, students would get answers on their homework and have no way of knowing whether their answer was wrong or right until their teacher graded their work sometimes days later (which often was way too late). The point of homework is for students to understand the material and not necessarily be able to master the content at that exact moment. Proving mastery of content should not really have to occur until exam time.

Programs such as ZOOM 200 and 300 are available on the TI-84 graphing calculator as well and essentially do everything Mathway will do without needing the internet. This program is not allowed during most tests however. If students just use these programs to do their homework for them, then they will be in big trouble come test time. I always tell my students that the point of homework is to further their understanding, and that is why homework grades are partially based upon completion and showing their work. Both Mathway and Wolfram have apps that can be downloaded on any smart phone. There are a countless number of other programs that will do similar problems for free as well.

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