I have written various posts on the available tools online for writing Mathematics and this is a topic which remains consistently popular. Time for yet another revisit and update as new possibilities are now available – all resources / links here have been checked. I have removed resources where blogs / twitter have not been updated for some considerable time as I think this is a cause for concern regarding the longevity of the resource.
Something I use a lot. I should explain my requirements – I want tools to communicate Mathematics online, for example I may wish to provide 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, 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.
My favourite method for illustrating Mathematics online (and in fact the one I use most often) when I just need a series of static displays is to turn an interactive whiteboard flipchart (or a PowerPoint) into a pdf file; the pdf file can then be sent to students or uploaded to whatever virtual learning environment or online storage your school uses. 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.
For sharing resources, it is possible to upload a PowerPoint or pdf file 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 PowerPoint for the slideshow above by writing on the interactive whiteboard software using my graphics tablet and taking a picture of each page using the Windows snipping tool (it’s in Accessories) – this takes seconds – the snipping tool is something I use every day! (Alternatively I could have saved the interactive whiteboard flipchart as a pdf).
There are as always several options:
If you wish to record a screencast of the moving pen / step by step solution variety and save your work, Screencast-o-matic is an excellent option. It is very easy to use to capture the screen and your recording can then be uploaded to YouTube if you wish.
Note, my previous favourite in this category was screenr, but this has been retired and trying Screencast-o-matic again I see it offers everything I want in this category. I found it very easy to use indeed and think this latest version is excellent – I was able to write very smoothly whilst recording.
Further resources offering various solutions for writing Mathematics online:
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.
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 four 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. Apps are available for Android and iOS.
Richard Byrne on his wonderful Free Technology for Teachers blog wrote a post, “Seven Free Online Whiteboard Tools for Teachers and Students”. Richard has also written more on Screencasting tools.
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.
If you want to draw some pictures and like the idea of more crayons and pens then you might enjoy these tools!
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!