As a previous math teacher, I am very sympathetic to the need for easier ways to represent math digitally. I also totally understand the financial constraints schools deal with, as I have worked in and with districts facing the same budget concerns.
So as much as I love the Equatio extension (and still do recommend it, if it is within your budget) I wanted to see if I could come up with an alternative. The conditions for my task were:
- The solution needed to be free
- The process needed to be as easy as possible (nothing unreasonably difficult to learn)
- The process needed to be quick (not lots of steps and hoops to jump through)
(Update: Google news! Equatio is now free for teachers. Be sure to check out my earlier post on how you can use Equatio to create and insert math and science symbols and expressions into Docs, Forms, and more.)
See below for a video and written explanation of the tools and steps needed for this. In a later post to follow, I will address the flip side and cover how students can submit mathematical expressions for answers in a quiz. For this post though, we will just cover the first part explaining how teachers can make Google Form quizzes with math expressions.
To explain the process, let's make a one-question quiz in Google Forms that has exponents and fractions. For the original math problem to digitize, let's go with this:
For this example, we will just do this one problem, but you could repeat the process as much as needed to make more questions for a longer quiz.
Step #1 - Make the Non-Math Parts of the Quiz
To begin, create your Google Form as normal, turn on the quiz settings, and type in your first question with as much as you can do with just regular text.
Note: If you need any assistance with the basics of making a Google Forms quiz, please see my earlier blog post and training video here: 24 Tips for Google Forms Quizzes
At this point our quiz will look like this:
Google Forms only allows us to type in plain text, so to add math symbols and expressions, we need to insert those as images. For our next step we will do that to add the math expressions for the question and for the four possible answers.
Step #2 - Create Math Expressions for Codecogs
For this step we need a tool that will let us make math expressions as images, which we can then insert into our Google Form. There are many ways this could be done, with many different tools. However, the option we will be using here is a web tool called CodeCogs.
CodeCogs is a free website that allows you to create mathematical and scientific expressions and equations. You can do this with easy-to-use buttons and/or by using the LaTeX syntax
To create our math expressions we will do the following:
- Open the CodeCogs stand-alone editor at: http://www.codecogs.com/latex/eqneditor.php
- Type in the equation box and use the menu buttons to insert symbols and format our expression.
- If needed we can adjust the font size, style, and even color.
- When done we should have the expression needed for our quiz question.
Step #3 - Insert the Math Image into the Google Form
Now that we have the math expression, we simply need to insert it into the Google Form. Here is where a simple trick can save us a ton of time and steps. Normally we would need to save a copy of the image and them upload that into the Form, or we would need to copy and paste a link. It turns out we can actually put the image into our Form with a clever drag and drop as follows:
- First, click on the "Add Image" button to the right of our quiz question.
- This will open the "Insert Image" window.
- Click on the tab titled "By URL" to select that option.
- Now from the CodeCogs window, click and hold down on the image of your math expression.
- With the mouse held down on the image, simply drag and drop the image onto the box in Google Forms that is labeled "Paste an image URL here".
- Just by dragging the image onto that box, it will automatically paste in the needed URL and the image will appear below.
- Now simply click the "Select" button and the image will be inserted into your Google Form quiz.
Step #4 - Repeat as Needed
From here on out you can just repeat this process to quickly and easily create the other math expressions you need for the answer choices, or for other questions. Then drag and drop the images onto the "By URL" tab of the "Insert Image" window to add them to your quiz.
When done we will have something like this:
And when we preview the quiz, it will look like this:
Of course, don't forget to set the answer key with the correct answer and point value, as you would with any normal quiz.
As technology progresses, I am convinced it will continue to get easier and more natural to express math and science content in all our work. For now we still need to be a little bit creative to find tools and tricks to help bridge that gap.
For now, one of the quickest and easiest ways I have found to add math and science expressions to a Google Form quiz is to drag and drop images create with the CodeCogs web tool. Hopefully you as well will find this to be a time saver for your work. If you have other suggestions, please share your tips in the comments below.
In a future blog post, we will revisit this issue from the student perspective, and will explore how students can create and submit math expressions when they are completing a Google Form quiz.
Post by Eric Curts. Bring me to your school, organization, or conference with over 50 PD sessions to choose from. Connect with me on Twitter at twitter.com/ericcurts and on Google+ at plus.google.com/+EricCurts1