I teach linear algebra and differential equations, to include Laplace Transforms. My students need to be able to properly notate vectors and insert matrices. This is currently not possible with the Latex Open Rich Content Editor. One cannot even create the equation in a different document and paste it into the Content Editor in Canvas. I contacted Canvas support and was told that my students' only option right now is to use this code, copied directly from the support chat session:

Julian M (4:43:42 PM):it looks like you can set this up to do a matix : \begin{bmatrix}

x_{1} & x_{2} & x_{3} & \dots & x_{1n} \\

x_{a1} & x_{a2} & x_{a3} & \dots & x_{2n} \\

x_{d1} & x_{d2} & x_{d3} & \dots & x_{dn}

\end{bmatrix}

As you can see, the code is not clear and not easy to follow, especially for a student in a math class with no programming experience. My students have timed quizzes and they need to be able to create multiple vectors and matrices. I request that an equation editor be implemented in Canvas that can support a fuller range of options such as the one used in Blackboard or in Microsoft Word.

Thank you so much!

M.R. Ramirez

M.R. Ramirez,

Entering advanced math has always been problematic with Canvas. This summer, I had my college algebra students enter 5 homework problems from each section into an essay question in Canvas using the equation editor. They had 30 minutes for each quiz to do so. There was one assignment that I extended to 45 minutes, but generally, they were to work the problems ahead of time and then enter just the answers.

Many of them hurt themselves by going to places like slader.com and just copied answers. It helped them with the homework, but then their lack of knowledge was reflected on the proctored exams. That's besides the point here.

Things were going fairly smoothly until we got to the chapter on matrices. Some of them improvised, typed it all out on they keyboard with [ ] around them. Some used Desmos. Some went to the Code Cogs LaTeX Equation Editor. Some copy/pasted that LaTeX code into the equation editor, but you're still limited by what the equation editor can support. No one sent me an email or posted a message in the class forum asking "Hey, how do you do this?" It wasn't until I went to grade their homework that I realized they were struggling.

To help with those assignments that needed matrices, I created templates for the students in different sizes and told them how to get them into Canvas. They could then copy/paste my template into the Advanced View in the equation editor and the modify it to meet their needs. That actually worked pretty well and those students who had been trying to fake a matrix were finally able to get the matrices entered. In the end, I ended up creating templates for regular matrices, augmented matrices, and determinants.

There is no programming requirement for this course, nor is the LaTeX code actual programming. I put in placeholders so the students could see what they were changing, but I've seen other templates come through as blank. You don't have to use the bmatrix environment, that gives you brackets around your matrix. There is also a pmatrix (parentheses) and vmatrix (vertical lines). I don't use any of those since you can't control the alignment or turn it into an augmented matrix. I used the array environment to accomplish that.

There is also an external tool that works with the Canvas Rich Content Editor for Canvas called MathType. I am a long-time user of MathType, back from the early 2000's when Bob Matthews came to a short-course I was taking and demoed it. Wiris has since acquired it from Design Science. You can see it in the EduApp center or at the Wiris website. I talked with the Wiris representative at InstructureCon a couple of weeks ago and it's free for basic use (up to 1000 equations or formulas per year per school). Using it in your class as you mentioned would probably require licensing, which is done based on the number of instructors and number of students who are going to be using it. I believe that Wiris hosts their own equations rather than trying to convert them into Canvas equations, so you will be able to do more with them than you can with Canvas. Wiris also has the ability to recognize handwritten math and convert it to LaTeX.