presentation rig

Over the past academic year I have been breaking away from slide show (powerpoint/keynote) style lectures in favor of more interactive discussions.  Starting summer 2013 I took steps to get my lectures to be more interactive using technology to present ideas live.   Below are 3 technologies I have tested so far, one semester each.

Fall 2013, I used google draw as my drawing program.  At first I used a mouse, then a graphics tablet.  This worked reasonably well, but was often cumbersome.  Starting a new blank slide took upwards of 20 seconds, which occasionally broke the flow of the class.  Also drawing on a graphics tablet did not come natural to me.  I had to look at my laptop while drawing on the tablet.  I gather this works well for many, but somehow was difficult for me, especially when I would break eye contact with the group.

Spring 2014, I used Jot on the iPad and the awesome (and, free!) service of allowed me to draw on the ipad (so I could look at what I was doing, then quickly get back at the group) and the drawings would show up on my laptop via a webpage.  Students could also follow along on the webpage and take screen shots for their own notes later.

Jot works great, but there are a few issues that I have.  One, adding text to diagrams… typing on the iPad is not easy for me,  and I found handwriting on more complex diagrams was far from clear.  Two, drawing over existing images, with Jot, it is not easy or fast enough for me to import an image from a google search and then draw over it, while presenting.   Its possible, but time consuming, thus image import must be done well in advance of presentation time…  not so live.

Fall 2014, I will be using a different technology that appears to solve several problems at once.  The technology is splashtop.  Its and iPad app and remote desktop client combo that allows me to draw right over top of any program I have running on my laptop.   This means I can open google images,  call up a diagram and then draw right over it.    Or when highlighting details of a music application I can simply run the app, and draw, highlight and annotate details while the app is running.

So far I have only bench tested splashtop, but the ease of use(like jot), and ability to run both music apps and presentation notes at once (layered visually) make it look like this may just be my favorite tool in my presentation rig for teaching with visuals.



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