But, I'd LOVE to start a discussion (I didn't find one when I searched) about how teachers are getting over the hurdles associated with writing formulas and expressions. What are some of the best ways that you've found to TEACH math in a Moodle class, given the requirements for writing expressions, etc? How are students turning in their work if they, too, must write expressions?
Several moodle managers in our area are working on starting a user group and I'm SURE that this will be one of the first topics to come up for discussion, and I'd love to point them to this thread for your responses.
Thank you in advance for your responses. I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts.
I am a Science teacher not Maths but I have worked with some of our Maths staff.
To me a succesful way is to use OpenOffice or StarOffice (you can get a school license for free from Sun). The Math editor is reasonably easy to use and then the pdf export is excellent. Staff can post links as a resource to pdf files.
Regards Alex
Hello
Microsoft leaves the office started excel, word, powerpoint free. in 2013 published pdf version.
Always consider the new alternative we really free Free Office, as Sun has left us hanging first, closing the open office.
My point is if you work for free, developers are also entitled to bring home a paycheck.
Would give free classes every day?
Un saludo
After a short time of watching the text being generated by MathType, I became familiar with LaTeX and began typing the LaTeX myself. I now rarely use MathType. Typing LaTeX is actually quite easy and fast. In fact, it doesn't feel as if my typing slows up when I transition from text to math.
I can't imagine MY students ever learning LaTeX or having patience to use a tool like MathType. I have only used quizzes and lessons with them so far, and these do not require them to type math expressions.
One major problem that I have encountered with LaTeX is the following. If you include LaTeX markup in a GIFT file (GIFT is a format for bulk import of questions), you must escape the characters { } ~ and = because those characters have special meaning in GIFT. Perhaps someone has solved that problem already.
I will be teaching a contemporary mathematics course online for the first time this summer. The topics in this course are broad, but they are not very in depth. Here are my initial thoughts on some of the hurdles:
Use "ascii math"
P( A  B ) = P ( A ^ B ) / P( B )
Use Math filters
A whiteboard type of assignment might be nice for students to draw graphs or diagrams.
I have a TabletPC that I use to write the notes. I can create PDF files of my notes easily.
I like the idea of sharing thoughts though, let's keep it going!
Hello math(s) teachers,
Even tough I'm not a math(s) teacher I'm very interested in this discussion. During my moodle staff development courses I am often asked by math(s) teachers whether it's possible for students to draw graphs and share them with the class.
Do you think this will be possible with the COVCELL project whiteboard? http://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=41187. Are there any other ways to do this?
Thanks for your ideas,
Ulrike
The whiteboard, although requiring a synchronous event, may be the best bet. Still.... finding a way for kids to submit quiz answers is difficult at best.
My school has been using the Elluminate web conference to deliver synchronous math and science courses. We've found the whiteboard/oneway voice to be an extremely successful combination. The instructor can prompt student users. Students and instructor can work together on images or problems on the whiteboard. If moodle had a whiteboard module you could do the same thing for much less money.
Here's another link that describes the service: http://cwcdn.geimaginationatwork.com/@v=092520050111@/imaginationatwork/flash.html
I'm not a math teacher bu thanks so much for supplying the Imagination Cube link, http://www.imagination3.com/
My work mates and I spent about half an hour mucking around on it!! It's fun to use and I will be sharing this link with others who may find a more educational reason to use it
Teresa
I don't know if this will help (I crossposted this at the discussion above). I found a whiteboard that we
modified. I think it was the same one that was planned for moodle at one point (I see references in the
source code). Although it is excellent, the problem was it could not manage distinct images for different groups/classes/projects.
I went ahead and hacked it, and your welcome to try it out.
Here is my post from the other discussion:
Hello If anyone would like, they can use this whiteboard. It is based on an excellent whiteboard at http://sourceforge.net/projects/drawboard/ written by Tomek Zielinski. I think the Coccinella3 has great promise, but we were going to have to install to much extra software to make it work. The piece I added to the original made it "group enabled" meaning that the server manages the images for different instances (the original could have many clients sharing one instance, where moodle needs distinct image management per class or group, etc...) I had to disable some of the image mailing and saving features, (see http://drawboard.sourceforge.net/ for more complete documentation) but I will put them back after I get done cleaning up the code. But each group's image is saved and is persisted between invocations of the whiteboard. Anyway, this is a moodle module (activity), so unzip it to the mod directory and access the admin page to install the it. Then you will have to go to that same directory and launch the Server process. Here is how it looks on our server. % cd /home/httpd/html/moodle/mod/whiteboard % java cp drawboard.jar drawboard.server.Server There is probably a better way to run this as a deamon or a windows service. The client machines will need to access port 7904 on the server where you are hosting the whiteboard application (That is where the drawboard.server.Server is listening). Sometimes tech directors will close off access to remote ports but the usual 80, 8080, 22, 2401, etc. I will be adding some features to this, including an equation editor and function plotter for math teaching. There will also be a way to "export" a snapshot of the current image, and "import" an image from the hard drive. That way, Math teachers can set up the equations and diagrams ahead of time and import them during class. Best Regards, Bob Piercy
"We" decided to keep BB for another year just for the Math classes as we felt that there was no way our math teachers would learn either Latex or the Algebra filters, and REALLY no way that the 9th grade students could learn it well enough to reply with expression answers. Math is very difficult to teach online anyway, but when the expressions are as awkward to write as this it was felt that we'd watch for improvements down the road.
Sad but true.
Hi James and Bob
You can try TalkAndWrite a Skype's plugin with a whiteboard and it is freeware
Marcelo
My Moodle version is 1.6.1.
Do you have any suggestions, or idea of what I'm doing wrong?
Thanks in advance,
Barry Bookout
We're thinking of trying digital pens (like Leapfrog's Fly Fusion Pentop computer or Logitech's Digital Pen)  students could write out their calculations on special paper and upload the completed work for submission. I think this would solve our needs, but I thought I'd see if any other Moodlers have tried this?
I bought a "tablet" pc almost a year ago, with a pen that I can use to "type" without the keyboard or write in freehand. However after a year I've not mastered (nor, frankly, have I tried very hard) to figure out a way to use the stylus to post freeform material for my students.
I teach Greek, not math, but the problem is similar: I'd like my students to be able to write in Greek and upload their work so I and others can see their actual handwriting. They do learn to type in a Greek font, but I want them also to be able to write with their own hand and a pen or pencil.
Given my own limited success using the stylus for writing things, I abandoned any thought of having my students do so. At this point, I just tell them early on that they will need to make arrangements at least occasionally fax or scan their handwritten work. I have an efax number so their faxes come to me via email. My students and I are geographically and technologically quite diverse  certainly not all have access to scanners, and getting to a fax machine is problematic for some 
It's a problem....
Re: Has anyone tried digital pens?



Susan, you wrote, "I bought a "tablet" pc almost a year ago, with a pen that I can use to "type" without the keyboard or write in freehand. However after a year I've not mastered (nor, frankly, have I tried very hard) to figure out a way to use the stylus to post freeform material for my students. I teach Greek, not math, but the problem is similar: I'd like my students to be able to write in Greek and upload their work so I and others can see their actual handwriting. They do learn to type in a Greek font, but I want them also to be able to write with their own hand and a pen or pencil. Given my own limited success using the stylus for writing things, I abandoned any thought of having my students do so. At this point, I just tell them early on that they will need to make arrangements at least occasionally fax or scan their handwritten work. I have an efax number so their faxes come to me via email. My students and I are geographically and technologically quite diverse  certainly not all have access to scanners, and getting to a fax machine is problematic for some  It's a problem...." 
Have you, or anyone perhaps had any luck with a digital pen (USB graphic pen) application since? I want my students to be able to draw pictures, write math free hand, that sort of thing. I'd also like to write some lectures with it. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you!
Concerning teacher lecture lessons with hand drawn pictures, maybe this work of Marcelo might wok below. Has anyone tied it since August 2006? ThanksErich
Marcello wrote, "Hi All I'm a mathematician and I developed a whiteboard (freeware) that is a Skype plugin. to teacher Math Please try it TalkAndWrite www.talkandwrite.com Marcelo" 
Erich
Hi All
I'm a mathematician and I developed a whiteboard (freeware) that is a Skype plugin.
to teacher Math
Please try it TalkAndWrite www.talkandwrite.com
Marcelo
I'm interested in helping my colleagues learn more about what can be done in Moodle for testing and teaching maths (and Physics too actually).
Can anyone explain how they use Moodle for UK 'A'level to first year university level maths (and Physics)?
It would be great to be able to show them an example quiz or course where the focus is on the maths rather than the features.
(I do love the features... but it's just the difference of looking at something from a maths' lecturer's point of view, rather than someone who's already wowed about Moodle).
Thanks!
I can comment on A Level physics, where I use moodle mainly to support classroom learning:
 Loads of obvious stuff like links to handouts, useful websites; as of two weeks ago, pdf's of lessons done on my shiny new interactive whiteboard
 Wiki's for research projects  e.g. working in pairs to summarise features of energy resources
 Forums  to explain ideas to each other, like photoelectric effect; or to load and share results of experiments
 Lessons to deliver content, mixed in with quizzes
The big thing this year is to build activities in moodle around a car racing simulation (Racing Academy  try not to get addicted to the download)  I'm planning sequences of activities, that may include forums and wikis for planning how to use the game and recording progress; reflective diaries etc. The materials will eventually be freely available.
All the best
Andy D
By all means have a look at my Moodle course, which is aimed at year 13 Further Maths A Level students. It's early days so far, so it's nowhere near finished, but I thought I'd start using it straightaway and getting feedback from the students before I put in a million hours of effort into something that doesn't fit their needs:
I have edited the maths using Tex (the $$ mathstuff$$ notation) and have found it very simple and easy to use, although I wouldn't dream of asking the students to try and get their heads round it...
http://webserver.churston.torbay.sch.uk/moodle/course/view.php?id=333
Feedback welcome!
At the moment I'm just using Moodle at A level to support delivery: notes, worked examples and links, and for posting the odd assignment. Haven't tried Wikis or Forums yet. Still looking for best practice out there.
I use pdf and html formatted contents and use also a great tool to build interactive activities for math: the Descartes applet. This is a free java applet (spanish education ministery) that can achive lots of math goals, and can be easily integrated in moodle activities and resources. You can use it in almost situations.
To improve my work, now I´m testing the use of a tablet pc to record videolectures (video handwriting whith voice), ink annotation on scanned works, the use of electronic ink as a way to overpass the writing problems in math, ..etc.
Hope to share your experiences.
After downloading Descartes, I'm wondering exactly how to integrate it into Moodle. Do I need to create a SCORM package? Please give us more details.
Did you ever receive any additional information from Jose regarding Descartes? The Ministry has a compete English Language version of their website up http://descartes.cnice.mecd.es/ingles/ and I was excited that they were offering a separate package of the applet and glue in one download and the lessons they had developed in another, but both links turned out not to work.....
Hi,
We have help support Maths teaching and learning by providing multimedia flashbased Maths Contents to provide the needed contents for teaching and to provide learning aids like assessments and lessons to help students in selfpaced learning.
I'm wondering whether any of you guys here are interested to try out this approach with your students?
Greetings All,
My name is Robert and I teach HS math in SouthWest Kansas. Here's my "Moodle Story."
I have held off doing anything with Moodle because of this very problem, (math symbols). I once had LaTeX running (serverside script) through the LaTeXRender plugin. A few months ago, my server went down, my ISP had to move all my stuff to another server and . . . Latex hasn't worked since. That's the bad news!
The good news. There is a clientside plugin called jsMath that is very easy to install, easy for high school kids to learn, and looks really good. The only "technical" requirement (if you call it that) is possibly having to download and install the fonts on your local machine. You can get instructions for this procedure from my wiki (mentioned below).
Problems that remain, as I see it; Even with jsMath, (Tex or Latex), running properly, students cannot submit math sybols as quiz (test) answers. Thus, we seem to be limited to asking multiple choice, truefalse, or some select calculated (numerical) answers. However, students can quite easily write/submit math expressions in all the other activities such as forums, etc.
The following is the link to the CVS site where you can download all the required files to install it as a Moodle filter: http://moodle.cvs.sourceforge.net/moodle/contrib/plugins/filter/jsmath/
Not only am I now (as of just a couple of days ago) using it Moodle, but I'm also using it PMWiki. This is a wonderful tool as well. PMWiki is extremely easy to setup (no ISP assistance required), easy to use, and with jsMath plugin installed, makes math notation easy for students. I also use it extensively in many of my HTML pages. It is a very versitile tool!
You may visit my wiki at the following address: http://robertfant.com/PMWiki/pmwiki.php
If you would like to play around in the sandbox, just let me know and I can set you up with a password.
++++++++++
All that said, I am looking for ideas on setting up an online math course. I now have almost all of the "tools" that I need, but now need ideas on "what an online (math) course looks like." This probably sounds ridiculous . . . just being honest.
Another tool that I would like to bring to everyone's attention is GoeGebra. If you are not familiar, do yourself a favor and check it out. This is an opensource, Algebra, Geometry, and Calculus program. { I could talk on this for a long time } Take a look at it and then consider, there is a plugin to incorporate GeoGebra applets into Moodle.
OK, this is turning into a book; I'm almost done. I'll end with this, I am looking for folks (just like some of you) to collaborate with. I am a onemanband here at my location and must do everything myself. Makes for some very long days. I'm willing to share my tools and webserver if you'd be willing to share time, effort, and expertise. Interested? Visit my website and contact me.
Thanks for reading,
Robert
P.S. This is a test to see if the jsMath plugin is insalled on this site:
$$ x = \frac{b \pm sqrt{b^24ac}}{2s} $$
It kinda looks like they've got LaTeX installed. jsMath typically looks much nicer than this.
You can use an Essay question. Students can write LaTeX markup in the essay text area. Of course you must grade essay questions manually.
But this raises a philosophical question: Should we expect students of elementary mathematics to "write math" in LaTeX? I think not. They should be writing math directly in the language of mathematics. For extremely simple math, they can use typewriter math, e.g., 3x^2 + 2x + 5 = 0, but for anything more complicated, they should have a WYSIWYG editor. But without an integrated WYSIWYG equation editor in Moodle, the best we can do currently is have them use a tool like MathType or TeXaide to construct mathematical expressions in a WYSIWYG fashion, then paste the LaTeX into Moodle. That way, students can focus on the math, not the LaTeX. In any case, for quizzes you will need to use an Essay question and grade the answers manually.
If you are more adventurous, there are several projects underway to integrate computer algebra systems with Moodle (Webwork, AiM, Serving Mathematics  see the Math tools forum).
Another concern is the lack of attachments in Essay questions. For example, students could then attach a GoeGebra worksheet that they created during an exam. I am also very enthusiastic about GeoGebra.
You'll find lots of discussions about LaTeX, jsMath, GeoGebra, computer algebra systems, and more in the Mathematics tools forum.
Specifically if you run the TeX filter debugger (yourmoodlelocal/filter/tex/texdebug.php) and under the "show command execution" option you get the following message:
$ /usr/bin/latex interaction=nonstopmode /hermes/bosweb/web042/b425/ipw.peakperf/moodledata/temp/latex/d1e56126337cd6e29b16fe759232ce90.tex OUTPUT: This is eTeX, Version 3.141592.1 (Web2C 7.4.5) I can't find the format file `latex.efmt'! RETURN CODE: 1Then try jsMath.
After MUCH debugging attempts, I found that this is a (fixable) bug in debian. It is not a moodle issue, but a Debian issue, there is a fix but requires recoding Debian. Details on the issue and bug fix here: http://osdir.com/ml/debian.devel.documentation/200408/msg00043.html
Since I couldn't do that on my shared server, I went with jsMath and it works "out of the box".
jsMath can be found at http://www.math.union.edu/~dpvc/jsmath/
Make sure to install the font family included in case learners don't have the TeX fonts on their local machine (jsMath will substitute these if the TeX fonts are absent.)
I will also be providing a link to the TeX fonts for my learners in case they want to/have the skills(!?) to install them on their local machines. The link for the TeX fonts are at: http://www.math.union.edu/~dpvc/jsmath/download/jsMathfonts.html
This was a seamless installation with minimal configuration and the install includes a test and debug file. I am very happy with it on my Debian server for which nothing included in moodle worked (again LaTeX issues)
Hope someone finds this helpful. This looks like a small forum and this is a pretty specific issue, but it might save someone else some time.
Also, you might consider it a plug for jsMath. It was an easy install and since it uses LaTeX syntax requires no learning if you know the language.
I've been teaching Algebra, Geometry, Algebra 2 (and last year AP Statistics) for 8 years now in the "smallest" county in Maryland. (I was in business in Washington DC for 22 years before changing careers). Being a former business woman, I used technology pretty extensively (mind you I used it, I didn't create or correct it), so using such for teaching is "no big deal". ("Chalk and talk" was not the way I was "taught to teach".) What has become a big deal is the amount of time and energy that is consumed (and not easily regenerated) by the "format over content" battle (aka "style versus substance"). If something isn't "pretty" and/or interestingly and effectively formatted students don't stay engaged AND they focus on the way the material is presented instead of what the material is. This is exacerbated when we need to deal with special characters, symbols, and notations. Furthermore, "the answer" isn't what I want when students are demonstrating mastery of the material. I want to see their thinking, more often referred to as "show your work!" This becomes almost impossible without paper and pencil/pen. Most students don't know how to use MathType, nor is it "fast enough" when answering multiple questions as in quiz, test, or even class work formats. Furthermore, access to this software and to keeping it current is more costly than my county can afford. Lastly, many of my students do not have dependable access to computers and/or the Internet (being rural, dialup is still the norm for most who can afford and need/want Internet access.)
I am surprised that there haven't been more recent posts to this discussion, am I missing something?
FYI, I use ActivInspire (on an interactive whiteboard in my classroom), I have a Wiki, I work with Quia.com to maintain some "games" for students to use to better learn the material, our grades are all maintained online (accessible 24/7 by parents and students) and now I'm trying to use Moodle as well. Frankly, these are too many things to maintain, when I was in business, we had many more resources to keep everything updated and current. As a teacher I find I'm pretty much a "onewomanband" who feels more often like a "onearmed paper hanger".
Would love to know what recent revelations others have discovered to make using interactive technology work well for enhancing math learning without making teachers work 3 times as many hours. (I already put in 70+ hours a week which is as much if not more than I did in business for about 35% of the compensation. No, I did NOT get into teaching for the "money").
Cheers.
Lonnise
I do not say this lightly, as I have noticed that this generation of students seem to think in terms of instant gratification  "I need an answer, and I need it now." They seem to get quite annoyed when it does not happen. As well, traditional skills, reading, writing, remembering are going down the gurgler faster and faster. "Why remember anything, we have the computer to remember for us," seems to be the attitude.
And here am I teaching computing studies, digital photography, multimedia, applications, web apps, dbi and a host of other technology courses. Heresy...
Every generation believes that the next generation is going to hell in a handbasket/handcart and that next generation says the same about the next to come along....
you note: "I do not say this lightly, as I have noticed that this generation of students seem to think in terms of instant gratification  'I need an answer, and I need it now.'"
I agree and encourage you to read
Outliers (Gladwell, 2008), especially Chapter Eight "Rice Paddies and Math Tests"
mark w. matthews
I have found your comment really interesting. It is true that there is a great amount of work behind using digital tools. Having coordinated teams of people reusing content seems the only way to solve it to me.
Regarding interactive technology for maths I would say that automatic or self evaluation of students is one of the interesting topics.
I suggest a couple of alternatives
 WIRIS quizzes, our tool for mathematical assessment
www.wiris.com/demomoodle/  STACK (an open source solution)
www.stack.bham.ac.uk
Took a break to clear my "cerebral cache" and "adjust my attitude" and now I'm back. Thanks so much for the alternatives, I'm particularly intrigued by the WIRIS solution. Not sure I can convince my cashstarved County to purchase this, but it's worth a try.
Hope the last few months ("summer") have been great. Cheers.
Lonnise
I don't think their thinking can be seen. All you have is some end product, whether the end result or a snapshot of some arbitrary moment in the process. But why do you need to see their thinking anyway? See this (indirectly) related fable for an a possible approach.