Software that butts in and over-automates a math problem or clutters the screen is bad news for students like Neil Kaus.

That’s why he says he uses Maple Learn, an education tool built by Ontario-based software firm Maplesoft. The Waterloo, Ont.-based high school student spoke with IT Business Canada shortly after Maplesoft confirmed that it was adding Maple Learn to its suite of free online learning tools. Maplesoft is used by mathematicians, educators, students, engineers, and scientists around the world. Jan. 19 marked the official launch of Maple Learn, but over 5,000 people have already used Maple Learn during its public beta this fall, including Kaus.

“Maple Learn is great because it doesn’t auto simplify anything and it lets you work through your problems, while still acting as a full calculator. It also works just like a document where you can start writing down and jotting down notes, and working through your problems. The tool is really effective for even just typing math quickly while writing subscript or superscript is using other similar tools is very ugly and slow. I find Maple Learn to be, except for writing by hand, the fastest tool for typing math using a keyboard,” said Kaus.

In addition to using it as a problem-solving tool, Kaus says he has been using Maple Learn for graphing because of its quick turnaround and the convenience that it offers.  

Maple Learn serves as an online learning environment where students and teachers can collaborate whether they are in the classroom or learning remotely, allowing the educator to combine steps worked out by hand with computations performed by Maple Learn. Instructors can also create interactive explorations of mathematical expressions, helping students see the effects of new factors being applied to an equation.

Anyone can sign up for a free Maple Learn account, which allows access to all functionality with limits on daily use. A premium subscription, which is available for US$ 6.99 per month, offers unlimited access. Instructors may be eligible for a free premium account, the company noted in a news release.

The tool applies a lot of the feedback provided by students and teachers over the years, explained Karishma Punwani, director of academic product management at Maplesoft. A lot of features have been streamlined to ensure students are interacting with what is essentially a mathematical canvas that allows students to write down chicken scratches and other calculations as they work through problems. Less clutter on the screen, but plenty of tools to tap into with a few clicks.  With remote learning now part of everyday school life, the actual remote learning experience has to get better.

“Educators told us that, while Maple is a great tool for doing, teaching, and learning all sorts of math, some of their students found its very power and breadth overwhelming, especially in the early years of their studies. As a result, we created Maple Learn to be a variation of Maple that is exclusively focused on the needs of educators and students teaching and learning math in high school and community college, and the first two years of university,” she said in a news release. “Of course, in the face of the pandemic and the vast increase of remoting learning, an online environment is more important than ever, and we hope that students and teachers dealing with remote learning this year will find that Maple Learn makes their lives just a little bit easier.”

Desmos and Microsoft’s OneNote are currently tools that are popular among high-school students, Kaus told the publication saying that he feels that it’s very tedious to enter math in these tools. 

Maple Learn is the latest member of the Maplesoft product family. Students who initially use Maple Learn will be able to transition to Maple if and when their needs grow, says the company. Complementary to both products is the free Maple Calculator App, which allows students to graph and solve problems on their phone, but also to move those problems into Maple or Maple Learn for deeper investigation.

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