Tip: Teaching Math Remotely

Some tools & pedagogy considerations: whiteboards, online calculator, equation, & graphing apps, math mini-lessons & simulations, and formative/summative assessment options.

Let me preface with a disclaimer that math is very far from my subject area expertise - but that said, I’ve done some research to share some technology (high- and low-tech) options to help with online math instruction.


This seems to be the #1 tool that math instructors are missing from in-person teaching, and even as a humanities instructor, I couldn’t agree more. I miss my classroom whiteboards as well! I don’t love the Zoom whiteboard, so here are some alternatives. First is Whiteboard Fox, which is browser-based, can be easily shared as view-only or editable, and doesn’t require an account.

Here’s a good discussion of using WhiteboardFox for online math, and a video about WhiteboardFox:

Google Jamboard is a virtual whiteboard that works like a Google doc; it’s more effective with tablets and pens than on a laptop, although viewing from a laptop is fine. Other virtual whiteboard options include MuralMiroPadlet, and OneNote. Here’s an article about using OneNote to record lessons - one neat piece is that it links audio to sections of the notes, so students can click on a note to go back to that time in the video - and here’s a video example of a math instructor using OneNote for a live online class:

High-tech isn’t always the best solution, and there’s lots of advice and instructions for DIY doc cameras as well - here’s a graphic of the basic idea:

Graphic from https://ditchthattextbook.com/online-whiteboard/

Online calculator, equation, & graphing apps

Another useful tool is the ability to write mathematical/scientific formulas and equations. LaTeX is a typeset system that allows you to create advanced formulas and equations. Here’s a step-by-step guide to Using LaTeX with the New Canvas Quiz Engine. To create the equations, you can use a basic WYSIWYG (“what you see is what you get”) editor like this Codecogs one. For more fun with LaTeX, here’s a great LaTeX Cheat Sheet created by Dave Richeson (Dickinson College).

  • Desmos calculator has a large set of common graphs that can be edited either in real-time (for a screen capture video) or saved as images.

  • Mathcha is a whiteboard/equation editor with LaTeX built in; you can use the web-based version or create a Notebook to save and use off-line.

  • CalcPlot3D is a free online 3D graphing calculator (credit for these last two ideas to Monica VanDieran - thank you!)

Lessons & Simulations

Geogebra is a set of online tools that allow instructors to create classes and enroll students, a bit like Google Classroom. Short of setting up a class, students can take mini-lessons on a variety of topics where they get to manipulate equations, graphs, etc. and then answer a couple questions - and get immediate feedback. I experimented a bit and created a one-question example here: Graphing.

There are lots of free interactive math (and science) simulations (examples in image below) from PhET Project at the Univ. of Colorado-Boulder

Image from PhET Interactive Simulations

Remote Math Pedagogy

Beyond the tools which can make remote math instruction more effective, it might be helpful to hear from other math instructors what they’ve done to successfully translate their classes to remote delivery. Here’s an article with a “talk-though” of the good points in an online math lesson, supported by video clips from the lesson. It is interesting if you want to see what an online lesson looks like and read some discussion about successful pedagogical choices.

The Mathematics Assessment Project provides examples of formative and summative assessment tasks for mathematics, and if you’re in search of OER (Open Educational Resources) materials, My Open Math is free online mathematics instruction in the form of questions and video support as well as open source texts.

More resources:

Math colleagues - I would love to add to this list with resources you’ve found helpful! Please add them in the comments or contact me directly.

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