PPT/ODP/PDF vs White/Blackboard

Following up on a facebook post and adding some more references and links as well as a poll for the fun of it . Also  noticing that there are 10 months since I posted here … other types of media have been used.

So, the question was about what we prefer to listen to. What type of performance do we prefer in the lecture hall – powerpoint or whiteboard? Personally, I do not feel very comfortable using powerpoint [PDF/ODP/beamer/whatever] to present nor listen to. The lectures I mostly enjoy are either the ones with just a few “simple” slides, or simpler annotations. For example

or why not the great lectures by

where you can find lectures by Prof. Adams or why not the great lectures by

(Yes, I admit that this is a “meta-discussion” in the sense that we watch someone lecture on a youtube channel thus making it more or less a powerpoint presentation – but I think you know what I mean).

I would also like to highlight the

that display a method that is somewhat in-between. A static “slide” (landscape?) but a detailed walk-through of the stuff on the board. Some of his “wild” [pun intended] ideas aside, it is comfortable to listen to him.

Back to powerpoint (or PDF or ODP) [copy from the facebook pages]: What especially annoys me are those presenters who read out loud the text displayed on the screen. The audience has already read the whole page twice before the presenter reaches the end of first sentence. And mostly, they have already understood the contents before presenter starts to mumble and desperately tries to remember what they’ve written three years earlier.

Too many times I have had lectures where the students have fallen asleep – more or less. It does not really matter if I distribute material in advance.  Yes, I know it is also my fault – I should probably prepare better slides and present them better. Perhaps I make the errors mentioned above.

But taking the pen and massaging the text and moving across the whiteboard is more satisfying. Making some errors now and then and erasing and rewriting after interaction from and with the audicence makes the presentation more live.

The downside is of course efficiency – which is important! – there is limited time slot in the teacher’s schedule and in the students’ schedules. Watching a professor slowly writing the formulae on the board could sometimes be as interesting as watching paint dry.

The combination of slides and board? Well, there is a risk of interupting the flow. There is no natural way of conetext-switching. Displaying some complex graphs? Equations? Well, yes, perhaps – but reproducing them line-by-line on the board is also part of the explanation procedure.

I am thinking of this graph, where yellow displays the “match” between entertainment and learning level. Doing the repetitive stuff, over and over again, is perhaps not that fun, but learning is better IMO. Think of it as a movie with Schwarzenegger vs a documentary with Attenborough vs peeling 200 kg of potatoe. (Well…) There are differences between being entertained, interacting and just performing repetitive patterns.  Can we fill the white boxes with yellow knowledge?





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