Devlin Daley

New Math Engine for Canvas

Blog Post created by Devlin Daley on Mar 19, 2020

My name is Devlin Daley. You might know me as the co-founder of Instructure and creator of Canvas. While I’m not with Instructure day-to-day, I am a huge fan of all users and people in the Canvas Community.


When we designed Canvas, our philosophy was to provide an intuitive and broad set of features that easily integrated with external tools that would provide even more depth when needed.


But I have discovered that products providing deep math functionality are severely lacking. I've started a new endeavor, Derivita, to address this specific gap, and I wanted to let you all know about it.


Derivita is an online math homework system, and we are aiming to replace all the publisher systems like MyMathLab and WebAssign. We do this by using modern technology and presenting a unique market approach:

  1. We unbundle the publisher textbook bundle. Publisher math homework systems are tied to the book they are bundled with. Derivita courseware can integrate with any textbook, even OER, which lets teachers choose the best book for their needs and use it with the best technology for their students. Students can buy a used book or rent it, giving them serious cost savings.

  2. We’ve built a computer algebra system specifically for teaching math and science. Derivita can actually do symbolic math. This fixes all the poor student experiences interacting with math homework, while also allowing for completely open-ended questions that can still be auto-graded (“Give an example of an odd function,” “Rewrite this expression in any equivalent form,” and more).


I approached this product the same way that I approached building a new LMS: talking with educators, schools, and students from all over the country. We’ve discussed their pain points and where technology is letting them down. Then I brought the same technical experience in building large-scale systems that are easy to use and solve real problems, to create a product that works. And of course it integrates seamlessly with Canvas :)


I’d appreciate it if you could pass this along to your math and science faculty friends. We are new, have a quickly growing question bank, some gosh darn awesome technology, and the best integration with Canvas you’ll see.


Here are some videos that show Derivita in action:


Webinar recording of Introduction to Derivita

Subject specific features for trigonometry



— Devlin