An easy way to record lectures on technical subjects with LibreOffice Math

I regularly go to work on the subway, and I see young people, probably students, with macbooks, tablets, iPhones and iPads. Well, that is, it is clear that they live up to date - twitter there, facebook for sure, instagrams. Maybe even probably watching lectures on Coursera . It is surprising that with all this, students read handwritten lecture notes in a notebook - with abbreviations, tables, definitions of terms underlined below, etc. And these handwritten notebooks cause me cognitive dissonance - well, why in 2012 it is impossible to write lectures on a laptop?

After all, the solution has long been known - OpenOffice / LibreOffice.
If you are a humanist, then everything is simply unrealistic here - in your lectures there are probably no formulas, no graphs, no drawings, nothing but text and tables. Sit at a lecture, listen to the teacher, type yourself a text in some Word. The print speed of most people is higher than the speed of writing by hand - this is a fact. Plus, such a feature as autocompletion significantly increases printing speed - if the word “innovation” has already appeared several times in the text, then as soon as you start writing “inno”, OpenOffice / LibreOffice will offer to supplement it to the desired one. Hit enter, enter the word.

If you are an engineer, and deal with mathematical formulas, then for a long time you came up with the free or its current free GPL version of LibreOffice. The feature of these packages is that there is an incredibly convenient editor of mathematical formulas, which by its syntax, by the way, is very similar to TeX. In MS Office, there is also a tool for entering mathematical formulas, but I definitely wouldn’t call it convenient for myself - you need to poke the mouse there - it is corny for a long time.

So how does it work. Suppose we need to write the following mathematical formula: If you write it with a pen on a piece of paper, it will take me 20 seconds. In the mathematical formulas editor built into LibreOffice, it will look like this:

lint from Г vec H d vec l = int from S vec j d vec S + int from S {{partial vec D} over {partial t}} d vec S

and writing it will take me 15 seconds. In case a similar structure formula has already been included in the lecture, I just copy it, paste and edit the changes. It takes even less time.

In my opinion, the recording method is very clear and logical - it is clear, after all, that int is the integral, from is the lower limit, to is the upper limit, lint is the integral over the surface. Well, of course, the markup language is interpreted, that is, the formula becomes visible immediately as you type. Enter int - the integral sign appears, enter int from ... to ... - integration limits appear, etc.

Well, here is a piece of the lecture that I wrote at the institute in 2009. I chose this subject because it was the most difficult to write - a bunch of formulas, a bunch of graphs:

Note: the moment “here I gave up” characterizes the entire audience, and not just me, because by that time no one in the audience understood what was happening.

So, summing up some results, I will indicate my advantages of conducting lectures in electronic form:
  • All my lectures that I wrote are still stored in my dropbox. Where are my handwritten lectures, I don’t remember.
  • No need to deal with handwriting.
  • I can easily convert the lecture to pdf and send it to my classmate. He also does not need to deal with my handwriting.
  • It is convenient to cook cheat sheets. Nuff said.
  • Well, mine is any - when the teacher, deducing the next formula, understands that he made a mistake ten minutes ago, apologizes, and begins methodically correcting the three written boards of formulas, the whole audience exhales in righteous anger - they need to edit the handwritten text, turning the handwritten lecture into stuffing. In my case, I just need to correct a few formulas. The external neatness of the lecture does not naturally change.
  • Everyone on the stream wants to be friends with you, because you have the most understandable lectures, hehe.
  • One time a terver teacher asked me to give him lectures. It was my hour of glory, of course.

  • everything that went beyond mathematics and primitive graphics caused me a fierce butthert. For example, to draw this one didn’t cause any problems - I use third-party circuit editors:
    But already to implement this in the lecture mode was almost impossible:
  • dealing with older teachers in an exam, it was very difficult to demonstrate my lectures and explain to them that I actually wrote them myself. Yes, remember, I was sitting there. Yes, on a laptop. Yes, this is such an editor.

You can read more about the formula editing language here .
The LibreOffice package itself is available for download here.
Here is an example of one of the lectures in the .odt format that I wrote in 2009.

Unfortunately, I finished my full-time studies a couple of years ago - then, in 2010, unfortunately, no one wrote lectures in this format. And this despite the fact that it was one of the best technical universities in Moscow, preparing future communications engineers.

In general, it would be interesting to know how your institute is doing with this? Corrections, comments, comments are welcome!

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