Apps that (almost) do your work

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Advisory, Bored
April 23, 2019

Some see programs such as Slader as quick help, but are wary of their usefulness


Balancing extracurriculars, home life, and homework can be difficult for some students. Studying for hours upon hours takes up valued time, that many can’t afford.

One easy fix is using apps that work out problems for them and copying the answers on these sites. They’re convenient, but is there a downside to using these sites? 

Some apps, like Photomath, are advertised as platforms for learning. They show all of the work to help students learn how to work through a problem. Their website says that they will “magically show the result with detailed step-by-step instructions,” when in reality they use algorithms to solve math equations for you. Junior George Tran says he uses them to finish his homework.

“It helps you with the problem,” Tran said, “and shows you every step of the problem”

Other apps such as Slader are straight-forward about their intentions. Slader is a service where students can submit their own answers for textbook questions. Slader says that their intent is to “solve homework,” and make things easier for high schoolers.  

“If I want to be learning, it’s most productive for me to be using Slader.” said sophomore William Irish

The common thread between these apps is how they are most frequently used.

“I’ve used [Slader] on days where I have half an hour to do homework and I have five assignments, where it’s just not possible otherwise,” Irish said, “I’ve used it only when it’s necessary, but if I’m at home and have time to work it through I will.”

In a small survey of 143, about three out of four students at Branham use these apps and many say that it has helped them learn their materials.

“I’m in AP stats, so I always have questions,” said senior Jayden Miller, “Whenever I get stuck on a problem, instead of giving up, I can use the tool and see what the steps are and go ahead,”

Some say it’s just unreliable.

“Generally the information that is given can often be incorrect or not related to the question,” junior Patrick Marshall said. “Often it doesn’t have the required textbook, and if they do, generally the answers that are given aren’t correct.”

Many staff say that it depends on the situation. Assistant principal Larry Lopez, who deals with disciplinary action such as cheating, sees two sides.

“The good in it is that students who go through the work have something to check and figure out where they may have messed up,” Lopez said. “On the negative side, I think some people tend to use it as an ‘Oh, I didn’t do my homework, let me quickly do it.’”

He says staff also have problems with this.

“It’s really hard to catch people unless they are actually using it [in class],” Lopez said. “We see plagiarism and I think the worst part is students tend not to do well on the test.”

Amanda Wilson, a math teacher who has been teaching for more than 10 years, has her own way of dealing with these apps.

“I don’t personally place any value on the [homework] answers in my class because I am aware of such apps that it would belittle the purpose,” she said.

She believes that copying down answers could be considered cheating, in some cases.

“It’s kind of in the same form as copying someone else’s homework,” Wilson said, “However, with textbook homework help, it’s a very similar idea and available to everyone”