How to get equations on slides or how to teach math or TiddlyWiki to the rescue

Since the beginning of my math-teaching my biggest problem is, how do I get the material into a form that:

  1. Can be projected during my lectures
  2. Can be put it on the web in a form that is flexible (not as a pdf)
  3. People can print out
  4. Can render equations (relatively painless to write) and graphics
  5. Is interactive, since I do make mistakes and correcting them on the spot is so much easier and sometimes it would be nice to include material on the fly, because of questions or because I get an idea

I have tried pure Latex with special editor and Lyx, but they need to compile and sometimes the compile breaks and you have no break-points, no real pointers what went wrong. Sometimes you can compile to dvi, but the compile step to pdf fails, yes there are two compile steps. This is at least one compiler too many. I am enough stressed out, writing the slides (try writing all 3 rotation matrices in homogeneous(4d)-space, all of the 48 components, in Tex), I do not need compiler problems at this moment.

OpenOffice, MS Office and Google Docs have nice equation editors, but not for their presentation parts. It can be hard (PowerPoint) to impossible (Google Docs) to get an equation (the aforementioned 3 rotations in 4d) into a slide.

OpenOffice needs years to start up, Google Docs is online and ok, except that at my teaching location the connection is really, really slow. There is Google Gears, which wants to reside at my users directory, which is on C:, which normally has space problems on my laptop and netbook anyway, without tons of gears code. And the offline version doesn’t work to well for me, ergo stress-factor, ergo out.

Honorable mentions to Prezi, which looks cool, but does not do what I need it to do.

I do like TiddlyWiki the one html lots of javascript Wiki to take with you and there are some interesting math-enables flavors of it, which may get me there.

TiddlyWiki comparison list

TiddlyWiki (pure form)

Pro:

  1. Easy to use
  2. Easy to install: download HTML start writing, installation done
  3. Just one file, great to use with Dropbox, Wuala or on a USB-stick
  4. Standalone or Web, doesn’t need a server, works with almost all browsers
  5. Easy to extend with lots of easy (in the standard version) to install plugins

Con:

  1. Just one file, means no extra templates, which means local version and web version are the same. But since I want my version editable and the web one not, this is unpractical. There is a way around it, but it is not foolproof, it would be easier to have the GUI defined extra.
  2. No native math capabilities
  3. No notes tree, which makes navigation harder, there is a sidebar, but everything must be listed by hand, there are plugins, but they are plugins for almost everything
  4. The file tends to get complicated, no separation of code and data, the worst sin in software

ASciencePad

Pro:

  1. Content and formatting separated
  2. Does equations and graphs, even has nice editor for it

Con:

  1. Not one file anymore, people will have to download the framework to view it offline
  2. Only graphs, no general svg with the inbuild editor
  3. No backstage, plugins are not easy installable anymore

TiddlyMath

(Seems to be from the same group as the above, not sure if earlier or later)

Pro:

  1. Can do graphs and general purpose svg images
  2. Does equations

Con:

  1. The math and svg-javascript-code is separately, but the data and the formatting still is in one file
  2. No inbuilt editors to help with equations or svg
  3. No backstage, plugins are not easy installable anymore

VisualTW

Pro:

  1. Nice looking notes-tree

Con:

  1. No math or svg

TWT-Notes

Pro:

  1. Nice notes-tree with topic and subtopic
  2. Cool equation editor

Con:

  1. Equation editor is not build in, but on a special website, does not work offline

So since I am a programmer and I cannot stop tinkering I will try to get this stuff mixed up.

I am learning Javascript as fast as I can …