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SeanQuallen
Community Member

Math Equations Not Displaying In App

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LaTeX equations are not displaying inline in the mobile app. How are STEM instructors to use equation output since the vast majority of our students are using the app?

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James
Community Champion

@SeanQuallen 

When Canvas said they added support for inline LaTeX everywhere, they meant everywhere but the mobile apps. I feel your pain -- I type a lot LaTeX expressions in my math notes and being able to type them directly without invoking the equation editor greatly increased productivity. There is, of course, the problem that students using the mobile app cannot see them.

There are two answers to your question, both of them come with some level of inconvenience.

The first answer is less convenient for students, but better for them in the long run. Students shouldn't be using the mobile apps to do most of their Canvas work. I include a page in my intro module about the downsides to using the app, plus share statistics from a class where every student who used the app for more than 50% of their work ended up dropping the course. That was an observational study so I cannot establish cause and effect, but the evidence suggests a relationship. The more you can do to stop them from using the mobile app and get them onto a browser, even if it's a browser on a mobile device, the better off they will be. I tell my students not to use the app and then give them an example with inline LaTeX so they can see how crappy it looks.

The second answer is less convenient for content creators. That is to not use inline LaTeX, but to use the equation editor to create the mathematical content. Then everyone can see it, including those on the mobile apps. There is a trick that you can use to make it go faster, though. Type the LaTeX -- without the \( and \) enclosure, select it, and then click the equation editor button. The selected text gets passed to the equation editor and converted to an image, you just need to insert the equation.

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James
Community Champion

@SeanQuallen 

When Canvas said they added support for inline LaTeX everywhere, they meant everywhere but the mobile apps. I feel your pain -- I type a lot LaTeX expressions in my math notes and being able to type them directly without invoking the equation editor greatly increased productivity. There is, of course, the problem that students using the mobile app cannot see them.

There are two answers to your question, both of them come with some level of inconvenience.

The first answer is less convenient for students, but better for them in the long run. Students shouldn't be using the mobile apps to do most of their Canvas work. I include a page in my intro module about the downsides to using the app, plus share statistics from a class where every student who used the app for more than 50% of their work ended up dropping the course. That was an observational study so I cannot establish cause and effect, but the evidence suggests a relationship. The more you can do to stop them from using the mobile app and get them onto a browser, even if it's a browser on a mobile device, the better off they will be. I tell my students not to use the app and then give them an example with inline LaTeX so they can see how crappy it looks.

The second answer is less convenient for content creators. That is to not use inline LaTeX, but to use the equation editor to create the mathematical content. Then everyone can see it, including those on the mobile apps. There is a trick that you can use to make it go faster, though. Type the LaTeX -- without the \( and \) enclosure, select it, and then click the equation editor button. The selected text gets passed to the equation editor and converted to an image, you just need to insert the equation.

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Thanks James. I'm having some issues with Canvas purporting to work 'everywhere' when that actually means 'in the browser.'

The second option would be better for us to support in the long run--thanks for that suggestion. I've always avoided using Equation Editors because I can type LaTeX 100x faster than I can click the symbols. I didn't know that I could paste LaTeX right into the Editor so I would say that solves the problem.

Perhaps I should mention this in another post--maybe a bug post--but inline LaTeX DOES WORK in the app if there is at least one equation loaded as an equation class (i.e. an equation built with the editor). The first image below has a non-working inline equation. The second image shows that, upon adding an equation with the editor, the inline equation is rendered.

NOTE: I verified this by deleting the equation built with editor. The original typed LaTeX equation goes back to unrendered text.

OTHER NOTE: Please don't get on me too much about not using the right quadratic formula 🙂

20220324_135213880_iOS.png

20220323_235345597_iOS.png

James
Community Champion

@SeanQuallen 

Loading an equation editor image is something that I had forgotten about now that I just put the inline LaTeX in there and have had that for over a year. I'm sure I've mentioned it in other posts a long time ago (I did a bunch of testing about when LaTeX would work). I think I consciously made the decision to not implement that hack because I didn't like the way the images looked compared to the MathJax rendering. For a while, I loaded my own version of MathJax and then removed it once Canvas implemented the check on every page, but I didn't go back and guarantee there was an equation object on each page (I have a lot of pages with math content on them).

This is why the hack works. What used to happen in the browser (and is still happening in the app) is that the presence of an image with an equation_image class would trigger loading MathJax and when MathJax was loaded, it would scan the page for any LaTeX and render it.

The engineer that made it work in the browser isn't part of the mobile team, so his changes never made it over there. That's why "everywhere" is restricted to the browser.

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