Product Review of FluidMath
FluidMath is a tool for educators and learners whose main purpose is to create, solve, and graph math problems through handwriting recognition. The program is available on the web, as well as on tablets and interactive whiteboards. In addition to the main app where learners can manipulate equations and graphs, there are “game” apps for learners to independently practice addition, subtraction, and multiplication facts.
Some of the pages don’t scroll properly and cut off various questions — and the writing recognition is less than perfect (especially without a pen). For those with fine motor skill issues (either with or without a pen), writing numbers and equations could make the tool near unusable.
A teacher dashboard allows educators to create classrooms and have learners join with a specific PIN. Teachers can then track progress, give badges, and create certificates. But these are only available for the games, which aren’t the main focus of the app and seem to be more of an add-on to FluidMath itself.
As a classroom supplemental tool, FluidMath has some potential. Teachers can use an interactive whiteboard to quickly write equations and create graphs to show the class, saving a lot of time drawing them by hand. There are also handy animations that can use sliders to show how things change with different variables, as well as a nice function where educators and learners can write an equation by hand that is then converted to MathML format (which can be used on websites or copied in typed format). This could be handy for educators who want to write assignments without learning “math code” or learners who want to share nice-looking math equations on assignments or webpages.
The main FluidMath app is most useful as a supplement to classroom instruction, since what appears on it is up to teachers. There are some example worksheets that show how to use the app, but mostly it’s dependent on educators to create materials for learners to work with or for showing the entire class.
Sadly, the first thing you notice with FluidMath is the outdated website. While the main FluidMath app seems to have a more updated look, the “games” and other parts have a much older feel to them. Additionally, the navigation items on various pages are different, and getting around the site and between the apps can be confusing; some links take you to what appears to be the corporate Fluidity Software website (and sometimes not the correct link).
The games that are included, while still rough in their implementation, could be good practice for younger learners of basic facts such as addition, subtraction, and multiplication. But learners would require really good motor skills and/or a tablet with a pen in order to get the handwriting recognition to work properly. The games can be a bit glitchy and may not recognize what the student is typing (leading to a wrong answer and frustration).
One neat function of the main FluidMath app is the ability to share screenshots from tablets or to “live share” while using a browser. This function means that learners can collaborate and the teacher can check in on student progress and help with specific questions or tasks. However, it seems to work only on a browser, which is where the app doesn’t function as well.
Overall User Consensus About the App
The main FluidMath app allows learners to write, graph, and solve equations, but other offerings on the site — and the overall site design — are lacking.
Curriculum and Instruction
As a tool to supplement in-class materials, or show the class through an interactive whiteboard, FluidMath can be a useful classroom addition.
A brief tutorial provides information on the functions, and there are a few examples provided.