Michelle Krummel

LaTeX Assignments in Canvas

Blog Post created by Michelle Krummel on Jun 27, 2017

Typesetting mathematical notation can be a challenge. Many applications offer some form of "equation editor," but these editors are often limiting and cumbersome. Users who need to typeset a large number of equations or who need to use advanced notation will benefit from learning LaTeX.

 

All of my students (grades 7-12) learn to use LaTeX during the first month of school, and complete LaTeX projects throughout the year. Initially, I require them to create the entire LaTeX document from scratch. They begin by learning to create short documents, then progress to research papers, and finally slide presentations. Once they've learned the basics, I include a template, so they can use my code as a starting point.

 

I use the external app GitHub Social Coding to embed code directly in the Canvas Assignment. This allows students to easily copy and paste the code from the template into a text editor, since, as of right now, students cannot open .tex files on their school-issued Chromebooks. I have found this to be a more user-friendly approach for students than having them download the .tex file, then upload it into the LaTeX text editor.

 

  1. To embed the code, choose GitHub from the Rich Content Editor:
  2. Next, follow the prompts to name your code snippet and enter the code in the designated box:
  3. Then, copy the portion of the page URL beginning with your username:
  4. Choose Gist from the dropdown menu, then paste the above URL into the designated text box:
  5. Click Add to embed the code into your Canvas assignment. 

Voila!

 

My students can then log in to Overleaf (where they can work individually or collaboratively in real time) and paste the source code into the text editor.

 

Final Tip: It's a good idea to configure your assignment settings so that you restrict the file types students can submit. When creating LaTeX documents, you want them to upload a .pdf as their final output document and the .tex file if you wish to view their code. When compiling .tex files, however, several other files are created with various extensions. Some students may upload these by mistake, or try to cheat and create the document using Microsoft Word. The ability to limit submission file types is a wonderful feature that will save you a lot of headaches.

I've attached samples of the project instructions and the sample template, both in .tex and .pdf form. Happy typesetting!

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