Mathspace is a mathematics eLearning app, which “combines the textbook, workbook and mark book into a single online platform,” allows students to answer math problems step-by-step and provides help if students get stuck along the way. It supplies systematic instructions for students while they concentrate on homework. As they answer maths problems using the iPad app or the Mathspace website, they can ask for a tip during any stage while solving for the solution. All assignments are marked while the student solves to provide instantaneous feedback. Teachers choose modules to assign to students, then they can review the results of which questions each student struggles to solve. It’s a pretty comprehensive program.
The subjects covered go well-beyond the basic arithmetic that many maths apps cover: geometry, algebra, quadratic equations, cubic functions, to name a few.
The really clever part, though, is that the system actually allows you to solve these things like you would on paper – you’re not just picking answers from a multiple-choice list, you are interactively solving step-by-step. The program rewards you for showing your working in its virtual textbook: That’s just brilliant. On tablets you can even write your answers in – so it’s very like the paper experience students will be examined in.
There are enough points and feedback-loops to keep things interesting, but Mathspace avoids cute avatars and the like. Basically it’s aimed at high school students and succeeds admirably in not patronising them. As our Senior Junior Maths reviewer Declan (Year 9) put it:
First, I’ll start off with the childishness. And I mean there isn’t any of it. The thing has beautiful web design and something that may feel quite uncomfortable to younger kids, but made me feel right at home. It has a virtual textbook and I definitely admire how much effort the creators have put into making everything look clean and simple.
It’s actually remarkably hard to find much to criticise in Mathspace – although it must be said we looked at it in the context of this review, it’s not something we’ve used in earnest. But on that basis about the only thing I didn’t like was some patchiness in the quality of some of the introductory videos. It is very nice, though, to hear Australian accents from the teachers.
If you are looking for a serious tool to teach mathematics online you can’t go past Mathsapce. It’s just wonderful to see an Australian start-up producing something so impressive.