Website review by Pamela Brittain, Common Sense Education | Updated January 2020

FluidMath

Outdated design and glitches mar useful equation tool

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Grades
6–12 This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
Subjects & Skills
Math

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Pros: The functionality of the main app is powerful.

Cons: The website looks outdated; symbol recognition is hit or miss; games seem like incomplete add-ons; needs an interactive whiteboard/tablet with a pen.

Bottom Line: A neat concept that still needs a bit of polish to be useful in the classroom.

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 teachers and students 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 teachers who want to write assignments without learning "math code" or students 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 teachers to create materials for students to work with or for showing the entire class.

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FluidMath is a tool for teachers and students 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 students can manipulate equations and graphs, there are "game" apps for students 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 students 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.

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 students of basic facts such as addition, subtraction, and multiplication. But students 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 students 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 Rating

Engagement Would it motivate students and hold their interest? Is it visually appealing? Would it inspire teachers to try something new or change their instruction?

The main FluidMath app allows students to write, graph, and solve equations, but other offerings on the site -- and the overall site design -- are lacking. 

Pedagogy Does the tool help teachers promote a more student-centered experience? Will students gain conceptual understanding or think critically? Does it deepen teachers’ pedagogical thinking?

As a tool to supplement in-class materials, or show the class through an interactive whiteboard, FluidMath can be a useful classroom addition.

Support Can students and teachers get assistance when they need it? Is it created with people of different abilities and backgrounds in mind? Is learning reinforced and extended beyond the digital experience?

A brief tutorial provides information on the functions, and there are a few examples provided.


Common Sense reviewer
Pamela Brittain Researcher

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