Build connections with your audience, even with handouts | HackMD Blog
April 5, 2022

Build connections with your audience, even with handouts


Kris Zhu is a Taiwan-based philosophy tutor who has been popularizing the arts of thinking since 2007. He often hosts live writing sessions, not unlike streaming gaming, developing arguments with his audience interactively.

He used to do this with Google Docs. However, on a suggestion by one of his audience, he changed to HackMD and found it more suitable than the old tool.

Kris teaches at Yu Dian private classroom. After adopting HackMD, his course materials have become more like an educational platform for the attendees, which not only alleviated his course laundries but improved the satisfaction of his audience. Let’s see how Kris pulled it off.

Kris gave us an example. In one course that introduces misogyny debates, he offers live handouts on HackMD. There are three major advantages to replacing paper with cloud to provide course materials.

1. A single source of truth

▲ A screenshot of the handout Kris Zhu made for the misogyny debates course at Yu Dian private classroom

For a total of 10 to 25 hours course spanning 4 to 12 weeks, a full-fledged website could be overkill. Instead, writing in Markdown, revising often, and using the handout repeatedly can be more convenient and sustainable to run a course on this scale.

For the 8 weeks of the misogyny course, Kris gives a permalink just once. Forget email group.

HackMD Book Mode is perfect for this use case. Course attendees can dive into each chapter whenever they want, always receiving the latest updates and supplements from Kris.

:bulb: Customize permalinks to make it memorable. Learn more →

2. Flexible scheduling

Misogyny is an ongoing phenomenon, in which new inputs come in from everyday life, which is great for discussion for those who pursue intellectual gymnastics.

Even better, attendees can pour in their relevant questions and materials right on the course material itself. Others can leave comments for shorter remarks or try to build a more comprehensive argument in the document.

Kris can re-schedule every session easily by changing the headers. For peripheral issues, he creates a new document to follow up later or perhaps uses as assignments.

▲ It's easy to rearrange the handout to fit the schedule.

:bulb: Make every update more intelligible to readers by naming versions. Learn more →

3. Long-term connections with audiences

HackMD notifies course attendees for Kris every time he updates course material. Saves tons of time for a professional like Kris, allowing him to focus on what matters.

To a philosophy tutor, these course materials are channels that directly connect students to him. After the misogyny course is finished, Kris still updates the handouts for relevant news and opinions, which include his own writings. This is why his students keep getting back to them, looking for ideas to respond to issues in their real life.

On the other hand, Kris promotes his books and new courses in the material. We recommend professionals build an audience and maintain an outlet catering to their interests so that they will keep coming back actively. This can be the best stage you can build in an information-overloaded world.

▲ Build connections with your audience and announce your latest offers directly and on-the-spot.

By the way, how’s it like streaming writing philosophical essays?

Kris announces when he will stream and what topic he is going to deal with this time on social networks and assign a limited window to it, after which the essay will be published officially.

In that window, he writes on HackMD and considers opinions raised by the audience, probably dealing with them in the essay.

A streaming event gathers a live audience who are also concerned about the issue. As a bug does not live for long in an open source culture, an incompetent argument would soon be defeated by the audience.

Kris Zhu People respond more nicely and critically than they were when I streamed on Google Doc. Maybe it’s the culture of the HackMD community.