Multimodal is a desktop app for teaching
Multimodal is a desktop application for teachers and students alike, harnessing the capabilities of the web browser to go beyond a simple slide-to-slide-to-slide delivery.
Knowledge delivery in the classroom includes more and more multimedia content and less and less linear description of a particular topic to a passive audience. Multimodal came from the frustration with the staticness of every slideshow solution offered -once you've written it, you have to follow the linear order-, and with the need to jump between multiple different windows and applications during lectures.
Multimodal strives to be as flexible as possible, while still remaining a holistic and self-contained experience, so that you don't have to switch between a browser, a code editor, a slide show presenter and a text editor in order to provide the people in the room with a learning experience. Furthermore, by mixing in writing, drawing and web-browsing materials, it strives at being appropriate for all types of learners, and not just those that are good at reading sequential chunks of text.
The result is a hybrid between PowerPoint, a whiteboard and a web browser, with the ability to change any aspect of the lecture on the fly and to export your lesson to any format that you'd like.
On a more theoretical level, Multimodal was inspired by the thoughts of:
- "One Damn Slide After Another": PowerPoint At Every Occasion For Speech, Erica Robles-Anderson and Patrik Svensson.
- Software As Ideology: A Multimodal Critical Discourse Analysis of Microsoft Word and SmartArt, Gunhild Kvåle.
- The Humane Representation Of Thought, Brett Victor.
- The Educated Mind: How Cognitive Tools Shape Our Understanding, Kieran Egan.
The point of Multimodal is to take advantage of the possibilities brought by HTML5, while at the same time living in the offline environment, and therefore offering a more focused and reliable experience than a simple web app. This is why Multimodal is first and foremost built on Electron. Multimodal includes:
- Preparation and presentation of lesson notes, including images, videos and websites.
- Tagging system to move from concept to concept in a non-linear fashion. #bringbackthedreamofhypertext
- Live editing of any textual content at any point: add, move and delete notes as you would on any whiteboard.
- Live drawing using HTML Canvas: draw on top of your lesson's text and images to make your points more visual.
- Exporting class notes as an HTML file at the end of the class, including the notes documenting student input.
- Uploading course notes to your website, or link it to a GitHub repository to publish them as a gh-pages website.
- Free and open-source. Customize Multimodal to suit your needs, and those of your students.
- Tagging system works between lessons, and not just within one lesson.
- Exporting the drawings with the HTML file, and exporting as a PDF.
- Course preview on the main screen: see each course at a glance, and metadata about each lesson.
- Advanced drawing with different colors, an eraser tool and simple primitives (squares, circles, arrows).
- Uploading course notes to the Multimodal website with a unique link.
- And anything else you can think of!
Multimodal defines a certain vocabulary. At the core is a lesson, which is what can be displayed and manipulated during the teaching time. Lessons are composed of concepts, which represent a page of each lesson. Each lesson starts with prep-notes (e.g. text, images, videos, websites), written down beforehand by the teacher, and in-class notes added during the teaching. Lessons are contained in courses, which then get exported as HTML files (think of your course as a whole website with a separate page for each lesson).
- Downlading Multimodal (currently supported are OSX and Linux) here and installing it.
Before a lesson
- Create a new lesson by clicking the Create button.
- Create a new course by clicking the New Course button at the top of the preparation window and choose the folder where you want your lessons to be saved.
- Create a new concept, by clicking on the +, and choose if it is associated with a particular tag (each concept can only have unique tags!). You can also remove a concept by clicking -.
- Add your course notes, by choosing between text (txt), images (img) or websites (url). Each of these notes can be associated with a tag, that will redirect to the relevant concept.
- Save your lesson prep by clicking Save and exit to the home screen!
During a lesson
- Switch between concepts by using the up and down arrow keys.
- Add a new note by double-clicking on the board, and start typing!
- Edit a note by clicking on it: change text, or move it around. Press ESC to let go of the note.
- Switch between writing and drawing by clicking Write at the bottom.
- Draw on the screen by holding the mouse down.
- Erase the board by clicking Clear.
- Save the current lesson by clicking Save. You will be able to edit it and export it later.
After a lesson
- Select a lesson by clicking once, and click the Edit with notes button to edit it.
- Export a lesson by clicking Export button. This will export the HTML files for your whole course in the folder you specified before.
Please get in touch at pierre [dot] depaz [at] gmail for any questions, comments, suggestions!
If any of those are more technical, please open an issue on the GitHub repository.