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 merge textbooks, whiteboards, notes and slides.
Knowledge delivery in the classroom includes more and more multimedia content and less and less static communication of a particular topic to a passive audience. Multimodal came from the frustration with the rigidity of current popular slideware, 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 text editor, a slide show presenter and a image processor in order to provide the people in the room with a satsifying learning experience. By mixing-in writing, drawing and web-browsing materials, it aims at being appropriate for all types of learners, and not just those that are good at reading sequences of bullet points.
The result is a hybrid between a slideshow, a whiteboard and a web browser, with which you can create and organize your research, your classes and your textbook. Live, Multimodal includes the ability to change any aspect of the lecture on the fly and to export your lesson to web and print with appropriate custom layouts for each.
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 topics notes, including images, videos, links and files.
- 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 alowing you to annotate on top of your lesson's text and images to illustrate ideas more clearly.
- Semantic structure which goes beyond simple presenter notes.
- Exporting class notes under different formats, with different layouts: write your textbook as you're preparing your class.
- Free and open-source. Customize Multimodal to suit your needs, and those of your audience.
- Tagging system works between lessons, and not just within one lesson.
- Exporting the drawings within the PDF version.
- 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.
- Automated archival of any URL you enter, to preserve the integrity of any resource you refer to.
- And anything else you can think of!
Getting StartedMultimodal defines a certain vocabulary. At the core is a subject, which is equivalent to a whole course, described by a syllabus. Within that subject are different topics, which are equivalent to class sessions. Different groups of students will share the same subject but will go through each topics at a different pace.
A specific topics has multiple components, which help you compose a thorough resource for the students. Each topics is divided into concepts, broad ideas which take several pages to develop. Each concept has a context where the teacher can add links and notes relevant to this particular concept.
Pages are the smallest unit, and what you interact with during class times. Each page includes preps, text, images, videos or links which act as leads for the trajectory of the class, writeup, which are more thorough explanation of the topic that is being discussed, and notes, texts and drawings that are added to the page as the class discussion unfolds.
Each subject can then be exported either as a website or as a PDF document, adapting its contents and layouts to each medium.
Multimodal is currently under active development.
Get the alpha version here, or subscribe to updates to hear about the next release.
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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.