I first wrote a post on the available tools online some considerable time ago and the post has been one of the most popular on this blog since then – time for a revisit and an update.
Something I use a lot. I should explain my requirements - I want tools to communicate Mathematics online, perhaps to give some model solutions or answer students’ questions. Writing mathematics can be a pain (and yes I know about LaTeX). Note that there are various possibilities – sometimes just a static picture is required, sometimes you may want to display how to solve a problem in stages as in my first example here, or perhaps you require a collaborative space. You will also need to consider if you want the examples to be permanent or whether you just want a collaborative space for discussion. A graphics tablet is essential.
There are as always several options:
Illustrating how to simplify an algebraic fraction :
Having said there are several options my own favourite for creating the moving pen / step by step solution and the one I return to every time is screenr. It does exactly as I want – it is very easy to use and plays back as I want it to – send straight to your chosen application or get the url (or both). The screencast can be published easily to YouTube. I think the reason I return to Screenr, apart from the fact that it just works is that the creation of a screencast is what I can only describe as ‘smooth’ – using a graphics tablet, there seems to be no lag / no jerky writing – my scribbles with my pen are recorded with no delays. It is also possible to record a commentary.
For a training video on using Screenr – see this by Russell Stannard.
(From his Teacher Training videos site).
Just in case you try Screenr and get a Java not detected message even though you have an up to date version of Java installed then the solution is here. Basically you need to Configure Java (see your programs list) and under the Security tab add an exception site: http://www.screenr.com/ I left my security setting as high and this did solve the problem.
My other favourite methods for illustrating Mathematics online (and in fact the ones I use most often) when I just need a series of static displays is to either turn an interactive whiteboard flipchart (or a PowerPoint) into a pdf file
flipchart to pdf example
or upload a PowerPoint to Slideshare. There are many examples on this blog of my SlideShare slideshows – see this for example
I should mention that I find Slideshare excellent – I use the free version which offers me everything I need – it works every time – I use it a lot!
I created the above slideshow by writing on the interactive whiteboard software using my graphics tablet and taking a picture of each page using the Windows snipping tool - this takes seconds – the snipping tool is something I use every day!
I see that I am not alone in my use of the both screenr and Slideshare, they are both in the Top 100 Tools for Learning 2013.
If you do not have access to interactive whiteboard software there are alternatives, one could use Windows Paint for example; there are also various free online tools available; see some of the resources below.
The following resources offer various ways to write Mathematics online:
If you wish to record a screencast and save your work, then as I have stated above, my own choice would be screenr in this category as it is so easy to use and for me is sufficient. I know that a very popular screen capture and screencasting tool is Jing, to use Jing you will need to download (free) software.
Another alternative is Screencast-o-matic which is very easy to use to capture the screen. I tried capturing myself using the interactive whiteboard software. Simultaneous Equations example here! It is interesting to note that the example is still there even though I created it in August 2009!
For a collaborative board, try twiddla which seems excellent for collaboration – voice as well if you want. Twiddla offers some very sophisticated features including the ability to use mathematical formulae and upload files and images. Use of the board with all it’s features is free but you cannot save any of your work (possible with a subscription). This would be good for working online with a group of students.
Scriblink – for a collaborative space
Scriblink seems to work well, files can be saved, an email (which takes a while to arrive) provides a link which you can send to others. Scriblink offers a collaborative space and an in-screen chat is available. You can see the features Scriblink offers here.
Another to try if you want a collaborative space is Board 800 which is an interactive multi-user (shared) whiteboard application. You can see the features here; the basic whiteboard is free to use. Note you can have several pages – see the page numbers at the bottom of the board. A session lasts for 90 days. Interesting that although one is invited to follow Board800 on twitter – the last tweet was June 2012.
Doodle.ly offers a very easy way to have a quick scribble and then share your thoughts! See quadratic example (and note that I created that just to test Doode.ly three years ago – a good sign that it’s still there!) Select Doodle Now, doodle, then if you want to publish you will need to sign in. You can sign in with Twitter or Facebook. I like the different pen tools available, the full screen option and the ease of publishing. I must experiment more with this in school – demonstrate an example and send it to twitter or Facebook!
AWW Like Doodle.ly provides a very easy way to easily share a whiteboard sketch – no sign up or installation required – just write away then share! this is really easy to use and you can post to Twitter or Facebook.
Glencoe – virtual manipulative
If you are looking for more online whiteboard applications then you could try the interactive whiteboard manipulative from Glencoe (I came across this in a Google search). Note the various backgrounds and manipulatives available.
Bruno Reddy – Geometry Toolbox
I can’t mention online whiteboard tools without mentioning Bruno Reddy’s lovely Geometry toolbox - this is great for demonstrating constructions and is on the teachers’ section of his excellent site.
If you want to draw some pictures and like the idea of more crayons and pens then you might enjoy these tools!
Have some fun with Crayola!
Finally – your students may find this amusing – the Writing Repeater – write something and play it back – now this is a lovely tool for little ones learning to write but I’m sure we can think of some uses!