For years, one of the most common questions that I heard as an educational technology trainer, speaker, and coach was “I’m a math teacher. How can I use edtech in my class?”
I had lots of answers that I was excited about. I advocated for Desmos activities, Flipgrid topics for sharing strategies, spreadsheets for investigating patterns, and more. One thing that was always tough, though, was actually entering mathematical representations into digital spaces. Some spaces were built for it, like Desmos, and some spaces had a pen tool, like Flipgrid, but others were not set up well for it, like Google Docs, Slides, and Forms.
Until EquatIO® came along. With its “Make math digital” tagline, Texthelp’s tool gave teachers and students the ability to easily enter equations and graphs into Docs, Slides, Forms, and more. At that time, there were quite a few math and science teachers who were very excited about the capabilities that EquatIO gave them. They enjoyed using them to create content, activities, and assignments for their students. And, for some of them, they even had their students use EquatIO to respond or create content of their own.
From my observations, some math teachers may have thought that EquatIO was a misspelling of equation. Until early 2020, that is. When math classes, along with all of the other classes in schools, moved online, educators needed a way to create, as EquatIO calls it, “Make math digital.”
And I think that EquatIO is one tool that they should consider to support their digital math instruction.
EquatIO–which is free for teachers–has 8 main features that I’d like to share with you. The first 5 relate to entering math and science expressions into digital spaces. Let’s look at those first.
Entering Math and Science Expressions with EquatIO
Check out these input options in the EduGIF below and then read on to learn more about each.
Note that while this EduGIF shows EquatIO being used in Google Forms, it also works in Slides, Docs, Sheets, and Drawings, as well as Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint, and Office 365 applications.
As you can see above, the equation editor lets you type in words, numbers, letters, and symbols which it then turns into equations or expressions.
If you don’t know what LaTeX is (yes, that’s the way it’s really capitalized), don’t worry: that’s why EquatIO exists. You’ve been able to use LaTeX to enter mathematical expressions for decades, but most educators, myself included, didn’t (and don’t) know how. And that’s okay, because EquatIO gives us a bunch of other options. But if you know how to use LaTeX, EquatIO has that for ya, too.
You draw a pi symbol, EquatIO turns it into π. You draw a square root, EquatIO turns it into √ . Cube roots, arcs, absolute values, Greek symbols, and logic symbols, too! You draw the math, EquatIO turns it into digital math!
You say pi, EquatIO turns it into π. You say square root, EquatIO turns it into √ . Yup! You say the math, EquatIO turns it into digital math!
You can also use your mobile device to prepare, capture, or create your mathematical expressions! Just access the EquatIO site from your mobile device with your normal EquatIO account and you’ll be able to use speech input, handwriting recognition, or even the camera to send content–as text or images–straight to your computer! You can learn more about this feature here.
What else can you do with EquatIO?
EquatIO has more to offer to your math or science classroom than just a set of awesome modes for entering expressions and equations. Let’s check out the other features:
You’re most likely familiar with the Desmos graphing calculator. Along with their scientific calculator, it is “used annually by over 40 million teachers and students around the world.” They are “built into the majority of U.S. state-level assessments and digital college entrance exams” and a number of other assessments. (desmos.com/testing) Well, it’s built into EquatIO, too. Want to give your students a graph to answer questions about? Want to give them an equation and ask them to pick the correct graph from a set of choices? Want them to respond to a question with a graphical representation? You can do it all using the Graph Editor in EquatIO. Enter your equation and then insert the graph right into your Forms, Docs, Slides, or Sheets!
If you know much about the folks who make EquatIO–Texthelp–this feature probably comes as no surprise to you. On Texthelp’s homepage it says “We believe that everyone deserves the opportunity to reach their full potential” and they continue, “We believe in digital inclusion – where life stage, visual impairment, dyslexia or dis/ability aren’t barriers to the online opportunities that others enjoy.” So, yeah, Universal Design for Learning and accessibility are pretty central to their mission. Actually, they’ve even matched the features in EquatIO to the UDL Framework!
Actually, I first became aware of Texthelp through their literacy software Read&Write, which is commonly used for text-to-speech and other features that make text more accessible for all learners. And why stop at making text accessible? Why not make math accessible, too? So they did! The Screenshot Reader in EquatIO can turn equations and expressions into “accessible math, which will automatically be read aloud” (source). You can learn more about it and see how it works here.
So, it’s great that EquatIO makes it easier to put mathematical and science representations into tools that aren’t built with math or science in mind (like Slides, Docs, and Forms). But even once those quadratic functions and graphs of trig functions are added in, the tools still aren’t quite right for doing math and exploring math. That’s where mathspace comes in.
EquatIO mathspace takes the tools that we covered above and puts them into a collaborative workspace for exploring math and science. Whether you’re teaching math digitally because of the pandemic or you just see the value in using certain digital tools in in-person classrooms, you’ll love the education-focused features in mathspace: assignments, feedback, collaboration, and more.
Orginally published by Jake Miller