I am looking for homework communities, online places where small groups of students of a certain category can exchange ideas about math homework. This is aimed at introductory freshman courses. One of the obstacles is the way students enter math into their answers on a web site. One possibility is using TeX, and hence equation editors come into play. There are many out there and I was wondering if anyone has used them for such a purpose, and how would you rate them. I am looking for one that allows the teacher choose the relevant buttons to reduce the clutter.

And while on the question what web site would support and allow such an activity, in a manner similar to Stack Exchange, with easy support for graphing equations. (I am aware that this is more of an education community question straddling math and TeX.)


To restate: I am after a sub-account on a site somewhat similar to Math.StackExchange.com where a teacher chooses/creates a small set of buttons making it possible for his/her students to click their way to a math formula. The students will use this for communicating with each other over their homework while the teacher plays a moderator. It is important for the palette of buttons to be customizable so as to make the approach appropriate for introductory courses. So in a trigonometry class \cos could be a button. Some support for creating simple graphs will help a great deal.


Here is a related question and multiple answers on creating sites similar to SE. One of the sites mentioned is offering an Open Source Q&A.

Edit 3

Here is a somewhat related question on collaborative documents.

Edit 4

The math on Piazza does not line up with surrounding text, somewhat like math content on old web sites.

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    Your reference for online (La)TeX editors: Compiling documents online – Werner Jun 4 '12 at 21:31
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    I suggest looking at piazza.com. Students are able to typeset LaTeX math in questions, answers, and discussions. – JohnReed Jun 5 '12 at 0:29
  • @JohnReed That site is interesting. But I want to hide latex by having students click on buttons and see it appear on their response box. Here, it appears to me, you either need to know LaTeX or have to build it on another interactive LaTeX editor site and copy paste to this site. – Maesumi Jun 5 '12 at 3:48
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    I can't think of a single site that performs all of these tasks, but it sounds like a great idea for somebody to make (if it hasn't been done yet). The site hostmath.com has a more point and click approach to LaTeX math, but it does not have a "homework community" structure behind it; I only mention it because I could not find it already referenced in the question that Werner linked to. – JohnReed Jun 5 '12 at 4:04
  • @JohnReed I guess if I convince hostmath.com to give customizable pages and convince piazza.com to integrate with it then there could a good solution (piazza does actively encourage input from users). Still some element of reward/competition similar to this site might be needed to propel the students, as the psychology is just as important. – Maesumi Jun 5 '12 at 14:40

Maybe you can add your own Cookbook to PmWiki which does what you want. PmWiki has phenomenal support for TeX and also has a forum Cookbook.

Edit: Several people asked me in the private e-mails if I was using PmWiki to run any forums. I am currently running 2 PmWiki sites but no forum. However, I am aware of several forum Cookbooks for PmWiki. It is very easy to extend PmWiki for people with some knowledge of PHP.

As of specialized forum software I really like SMF. I am not running it currently. I just checked and surprise, surprise SMF does have LaTeX support.

  • Do you know of a math forum on PmWiki? I had tried to use PbWiki before (now called PbWorks.com) which has some TeX support and not open source and not a forum. I am trying to avoid having students learn TeX to answer math. My students simply won't respond. Hence the search for customizable clickable equation editors. – Maesumi Jun 8 '12 at 12:56
  • @Maesumi I have used PmWiki extensively but for forum software. However, I am aware of not one but several forum Cookbooks. – Predrag Punosevac Jun 8 '12 at 22:50

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