** “When was the last time you used quadratic equations in real life?”** asks British technologist

**Conrad Wolfram**, raising a laugh from the audience during his talk at the seventh

**International Conference on Educational Innovation (CIIE)**, organized by

**Tec de Monterrey**.

*“The response I have received from acquaintances and friends is: ‘ Never. Except when I have to teach it to my kids.’”*

Wolfram smiles as he says that the **problem** with the current **process** of **teaching mathematics** is that it forces students to go through a lot of areas of math and tells them that this is essential.

*“In real-world mathematics, computers do almost all of the work, but in mathematics classes, people do all the work,” *Wolfram said.

**An evolution which avoids mathematics**

What Wolfram proposes is** replacing **the long** manual process **and** allowing students **to better understand** problems **and apply their** solutions **to the** real world **by using** computer-based mathematical thinking**.

Wolfram says that **mathematics** has **evolved** through the use of **computers** in areas such as health and biology. Despite its **importance** in **contemporary life**, he believes that **mathematics** in education has **undergone few significant changes**.

He mentions that mathematics is a **4-step** **process**: first you **define a question**. Then, that question is written in a **way** that **can be calculated**. What follows is a **process of calculation** and **resolution**. Finally, the **results** are **interpreted**.

However, the expert mentions that **mathematics** **education** focuses heavily **on** **step 3**, the calculation and **resolution process**, in which students solve long equations by hand.

*“Why do we force students to do this? Why can't we get them to use the technology they already have?” *asks Wolfram.

**Computer-based mathematical thinking**

The **solution** offered by the British expert is to let **computers** **do** the work in **step 3**, **manual calculations**, so that teachers and students **can focus on** **understanding** and **defining the problem**, and identifying the information required to solve it.

That **information** can be turned into **codes**, **diagrams**, or **algorithms** that can be input into computers to be **calculated**.

Students should **be able to** **interpret** the **results** that the **computer** returns, make them **understandable**, and then **test** them in **real-life** contexts.

Wolfram says that this **idea** is relatively **recent** and that, although it has not been widely adopted, there are already **universities**, **businesses**, and **governments** that are **interested** in the **concept**.

*“ Computing can be applied to many different subjects, such as sequencing the human genome. A decade ago this would have been impossible to do.*

*“If I told a scientist 100 years ago that there would be a computer which could do the life’s work of a mathematician in 1 second, he wouldn't have believed me,” *says Conrad.

**Will students only learn the basics?**

Wolfram says that although this is beneficial, there are **others** who think that **mathematics** **education** should **remain** as it is.

*“Some people think you have to learn the basics of math, but what are the basics? When you learn how to drive, you don't have to learn how to build a car or know how it works,” *he shares.

Wolfram believes that education **should not be based only on technology**, but should definitely be **aided by it**. He also says that it is necessary for students to understand the different **concepts**, but that the **calculations**, especially the most **laborious** ones, could be left to **technology**

For example, in his book, ** The Math(s) Fix**, he shares a case in which

**students**analyze

**cyclists**in a

**competition**.

Through **data analysis**, the students learned to investigate **concepts** such as **air speed**, the **resistance** of bicycle chains, and form those ideas into **data** that can be **calculated**.

As a result, they were able to get the cyclists to **improve** their **performance**. These are **skills** which Conrad believes are **necessary** for the **industrial revolution 4.0** that we are currently experiencing.

*“ Computational thinking is critical. It’s like reading; it’s basic,” *he asserts.

**“New mathematics” in the future**

Wolfram has worked with **governments** and **universities** on this topic and has even developed ** Mathematica**, a project using technical computing for research, development, and education.

He has also created **WolframAlpha**, a **computational intelligence** **site** where you can **search** for various **topics** such as **science**, **history**, and even **hobbies**, to name but a few.

However, the expert believes that this **change** in **math** **education** is not something that can happen quickly.

*“It’s easier in universities like *

*Tec de Monterrey**, where you decide your*he explained.

**curricula**, but it’s**more complicated**in**secondary schools**for example,”Other **difficulties** include the **digital divide**, especially in countries where people don’t have access to technology.

However, the speaker says that **access** to **computing** is **not as expensive as it was before** and there are simple ways to do it through **low-cost smart phones**.

*“I strongly recommend that governments ensure these technologies are available to everyone.*

*“ Countries or universities that start doing things this way sooner will have the tremendous advantage of being the first to do so,” *he said.

**The 7th annual CIIE**

This is the **7th** Tec de Monterrey **International Conference on Educational Innovation**.

The event is held **annually** and for the **first time** **virtually** on this occasion for 5 days from **December 14 to 18**, 2020.

*“At CIIE, we identify current challenges and opportunities in the world of education. We seek to promote new teaching-learning methods, and the tools that new generations demand,” *said

**David Garza**

*, the*

**Tec's**

*rector.*

More than **4,500 attendees** from **25 countries **participated at this year’s conference, and had the opportunity to listen to **25 university rectors** and more than **70 international experts**.

This year's conference focused on **6 main topics**:

*Trends in***education***Technology**in***education***Managing***educational innovation***Academic***innovations in health***Life-long***learning***EdTech**entrepreneurship*

In addition, **virtual exhibitions** and awards such as the **TPrize** were held in association with the **University of Los Andes** and **MIT**.

This event recognizes **startups** proposing **solutions for reducing the education gap in Latin America**.

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