I’ve long been interested in collaborative notetaking in class as a way of making presence in class more meaningful. In my imagination, collaboratively written notes from class discussions and exercises intersect with other kinds of notes (Hypothes.is for instance for reading, Zotero on bibliography) to make a sort of super zettlekasten.

In class this term (‘Bad Archaeology‘) I’m framing discussion as a series of unconferences. As part of that, I’m also making any notes that I scribble together available to the students via HackMD.io. HackMD also has a nice feature that integrates with Reveal.js so that I can quickly spin out a slide deck from a bit of markdown in a new note, like so:

title: Slidedeck Sept 4 Getting Started
  transition: fade
  theme: night

## Sept 4 Getting Started


![an image](url to the image)

Speaking notes hide here; not visible in slide mode but visible in edit


and so on

This really fits well with my existing flow. You can create a ‘book’ by making a note with a list of links, then hitting ‘book mode’. The page that loads up will use your note as a table of contents on the left of the page, and the contents from the first linked page as the default first page:

Screenshot from my HackMD notebook

I’m imagining my students making many cards, then filing them altogether in a book-like format. Permissions can be set on individual cards to restrict who can edit them (so just the students, students plus me, outside world, etc). Materials can be exported to dropbox, github, odf format, etc. YAML can be added to each note to ask Google not to index and so on.

HackMD has pricing for more features, more space and so on;  if the business model is good presumably it’s going to hang around for a while. But… there’s always the fear, right? Turns out, you can deploy the whole thing to your own space too – the repository is at https://github.com/hackmdio/codimd. (There’s a desktop interface I see, which is neat, it’s in the organization’s repository list). It doesn’t look easy to deploy, mind you. I have a free account with Heroku, so when I saw the ‘deploy to heroku’ button….

Reader, I pressed it.

It failed the first time, but deployed the second time, so now I have a collaborative markdown notepad of my very own.

(ha, as I look at my Heroku dashboard, I see that I set this up once before a year or two ago! Completely forgot about it…)

featured image by Aaron Burden via Unsplash