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1 Introduction

FreeStyler is a flexible computer-integrated classroom application in the CSCL and the microworlds tradition that includes various kinds of collaborative modeling and discussion applications. It combines aspects of NoteIt! and Cool Modes, i.e. other tools developed by the Collide group. It has a page-based representation. Each page can include "annotations" and various "models" from the Cool Modes' plugins. Each tool is called palette, since the user will create "things" using (graphical) palette elements (see the list of palettes below). It supports collaborative modeling through the use of coupling based on the MatchMaker server (included).

FreeStyler puts “emphasis on creative meetings and its outcomes and the incremental building of a group memory. It serves primarily as an interface between face-to-face discussions and the documentation process, but it can be used during multiple working phases as preparation, creative meetings, presentation, post processing or wrapping up information. This is enabled by a cooperative visual language which offers a set of content objects to structure information. A content object combines a symbolic view with predefined interactions. It can be characterized as a template for a special type of information as ideas, concepts, decisions, addresses or internal and external links. Whereas several content objects rather define the category of information, others, i.e. the links, provide additional structural information and interaction features. Together with these content objects users can add handwritten input flexibly. Methods as concept mapping, mind mapping or MetaPlan are easy to perform with the FreeStyler. The external representations both enrich and influence the communication.”

Freestyle works well with a tablet PC.

See also: Classroom Presenter (if you just need a presentation/collaboration scribbling application).

2 Software

2.1 Download

  • Freestyler is a networked application written in Java which needs to installed from if necessary.
Download page
  • FreeStyler.
  • The installer will install both Freestyler and a collaboration server called MatchMaker. The MatchMaker server can hold several sessions at a time and synchronizes the content of the session among all users. Users can create new or join existing sessions with the FreeStyler connection dialogs.

2.2 Screen capture

Screen capture of FreeStyler. Source:
  • Large pane: Includes two models (a Petri-Net on top and a simulation below) and annotations
  • Right pane: Shows a tool (called palette), i.e. the simulation tool bricks
  • Bottom pane: Drawing and layer tools
  • Top panes: Menus and tabs for other "pages"

2.3 Integration with other tools

  • FreeStyler can connect a repository
  • There is also a Moodle extension that allows to upload Freestyler "slides".

2.4 Plugins

Depending on the version, more or less plugins will be included. E.g. FreeStyler 2.11 includes the following:

  1. Activity - a UML activity diagram modeling tool
  2. Argunaut - a plugin emulating the Digalo discussion environment
  3. Chat - a small chat client which can be used to chat with other participants in the same collaboration session.
  4. Discuss - a discussion and moderation support plugin.
  5. FeedbackLoops - model your feedback loops with FreeStyler.
  6. Finite Automata - model and test finite automata with this plugin
  7. Functions - Let FreeStyler draw your function graphs with this plugin
  8. Graphical Calculator for Products and Sums - s. above. These latter two plugins can be used in conjunction with the Moon Plugin
  9. MindMapping - This plugin can be used to create simple MindMaps.
  10. Moon - While this plugin was initially used to measure moon craters (together with the calculation plugins) it can easily be used to measure arbitrary lengths on pictures of your choice.
  11. Petri Nets - This plugin can be used to model simple place transition networks.
  12. Picture Collections - This plugin creates a node from every picture you put into a specified folder.
  13. QOC - document your decision with the QOC approach. Alternatively you can use this plugin as a score boarding model.
  14. SeeMe - the SeeMe-modeling language has inspired this plugin. Model your socio technical systems using this plugin.
  15. Simple UML / UML - model simple class diagramms
  16. Stochastic Experiments (CoSE - Collaborative Stochastic Experimenting) - model, simulate and analyse probability experiments of varying complexity
  17. Stochastic Introduction - model, simulate and analyse elementary probability experiments. This plug-in is an extract of Stochastics Experiments (CoSE) for younger students
  18. System Dynamics - model complex systems with System dynamics within the FreeStyler
  19. MoCoLaDe Scenario/learning design modeler/editor. Can export to IMS Learning Design.
  20. SCY-SE Learning scenario editor.

Other plugins exist and that were made either for research purposes or under development ...

3 Links

  • Collide Portal (includes both download and many academic papers, several that related to FreeStyler)

4 Bibliography

  • Lingnau, Andreas, Kuhn, Markus, Harrer, Andreas, Hofmann, D, Fendrich, M, Hoppe, H. Ulrich (2003). Enriching Traditional Classroom Scenarios by Seamless Integration of Interactive Media. Advanced Learning Technologies: Technology Enhanced Learning , Los Alamitos, CA,2003, PDF