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iPad apps for university mathematics teaching: your suggestions please

New game, everyone! Work have bought me an iPad. I have so far discovered this is basically a touch screen interface through which I can write email, read Twitter and play pinball, but I’ve heard a rumour that it can do even more than that. I’d like you to suggest what else I might do with it.


Work, in this case, is being a lecturer of mathematics at Nottingham Trent University, which I will be doing for the next academic year. Last year I taught using a tablet PC. I was involved a little with such technology in my work under the National HE STEM Programme, and edited a booklet of contributions on that sort of thing. Basically, last year I made an outline PDF in LaTeX and wrote on this during lectures, publishing the annotated PDF for the students. I liked this because it meant that I could write and project large enough for everyone to see in quite a large lecture theatre, face the audience while writing and provide a copy for students after the event. I might do much the same next year, but I would like to explore the possibilities using my new kit as well or instead, principally for delivering lectures and perhaps recording short worked examples.

I now have an iPad and a LiveScribe Pen, with which to carry on my explorations in that area. It is fairly clear what to do with the pen – I can write out worked examples and solutions and record myself doing so. The iPad has rather more possibilities. I have a stylus which is apparently good for writing (rather than, say, pointing or drawing) and a connector to plug the iPad into the standard lecture theatre projector system, so I can lecture from the iPad provided I have the right app. I also have a £50 Apple App Store gift card so apps can happily be free or cost money (up to a point!). I have the Wolfram Alpha app, but basically assume I have nothing else.


  1. What is a good PDF annotator app for the iPad? I would like to load a PDF I made on my computer in LaTeX, write on it in class and export the result back to PDF. I have enough money to try a few different ones and compare, if necessary.
  2. Can I record what I am writing/doing as a video? How would this work? (I expect not.)
  3. What other useful apps should I try?
  4. Is there anything else I should be thinking about with the iPad or the LiveScribe pen?

I am teaching university mathematics so apps and uses need to be relevant to that. Either apps I could use with my students in class or ones that would help me with my job. I will be running the first year calculus and linear algebra module, also teaching (though not in charge of what happens) on some computational and numerical methods stuff around Matlab etc. I will be doing some basic maths for forensic science. I also run the Maths Arcade, which means puzzles and games are in. I give talks at conferences which are usually a PDF made by LibreOffice Impress. Please make your suggestions in the comments below. Thank you!

EDIT (28/08/2013):  I wrote a follow-up round-up post here: Your suggestions of iPad apps for university mathematics teaching.

5 Responses to “iPad apps for university mathematics teaching: your suggestions please”

  1. Avatar Stu Price

    I’m eager to see what other contributions and suggestions people make here, as I’m in the relatively early days of incorporating an iPad into my A-level teaching. For PDF import, annotation and export I’m a big fan of Notability. (I also use it in meetings for example, annotating the agenda. It’s also great to be able to quickly email a handwritten solution to a problem.) To record annotations/presentation then there is ExplainEverything. I’ve not got too far with it, but you can pre-prepare/import slides and images I believe. I have used it to record ‘screencasts’ of model exam solutions for example.

    I also have TeX Writer in case I feel the need to Latex anything on the go; I bought the TI-nspire CAS app when it was on sale; am about to download Desmos; and also have one called PocketCAS just because it’s quite neat with 3D surfaces.

    There is a teacher app for Socrative if you use that for quizzing/polling and there are various ‘gradebook’ apps which may or may not be useful for you – I’m going to start using iDoceo for the coming year.

    As I say, I’m slowly gathering momentum with this so look forward to hearing more about your own progress and other people’s input.

  2. Avatar Jennifer D

    You should definitely download MathPad!

    MathPad allows you to create documents with mathematical expressions using specially designed mathematical keyboards.

    When creating a document in MathPad, it will automatically draw, re-size, and align the mathematical expressions, according to their content, using a special mathematical keyboard.

    MathPad has the capability for you to print or email the PDF documents you make and you can open documents received from other MathPad users.

    MathPad EDU includes the MultiDocs module that enables advanced features and is eligible for at a discount for Educational Institutions.

  3. Avatar Theron Hitchman

    My favorites (for work):
    NoteShelf for taking notes, the stylus will help
    Notability for marking pdfs
    ThinkBook for a fancy todo list/planner
    TexPad for LaTeX (I once gave a talk off beamer slides prepared totally with it), a bluetooth keyboard makes this easier.
    sketchbook pro for drawing


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