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Equations: whiteboard vs slides

  1. May 18, 2017 #21


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    Interesting idea, although it sounds like a lot of work :smile:
  2. May 18, 2017 #22


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    It's just another option. I wasn't thinking the whole lecture. Just maybe certain derivations. If it is 5 or 10 minutes long, you could even assign them to watch before the class, so some of the class time could be spent discussing and answering questions.
    I think that most people of that age group probably enjoy watching videos. Maybe it's just another way to get them to stay interested.
  3. May 20, 2017 #23


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    What I call a lived-in blackboard.

    Well trying to remember when I started my undergraduate course that blackboards (green) were moderately usual use. Rather less in my final year when we had one formal lecture a day and, the department being under construction, lectures were held in a theatre also used by the faculty of Law. Lecturers had been pressured to minimise use, because the elegant legal gentleman who lectured after them then had to appear in Court and did not appreciate chalkdust on their formal black suits.

    After my degree I have been in any number of seminars, lectures, conferences and meetings for decades, and just never came across backboards. It was slides all the time. I was there around the time of the change over when slide displays were a bit clunky, there were still two formats, and presentations involved a collaborating ‘projector’, i.e. a colleague or a technician detailed to work the projector. Talks were always interrupted continually by the call 'Next Slide Please’. If one incorporated this call within the talk with phrases like ‘so then as the next slide shows' then often nothing would happen – the speaker would have to call out loud 'Next Slide Please!’. This went on for some years but after a time remote controls came in which made it more convenient. Transparences came in, which were at least easier to prepare. And you could write on them during the talk, so they were somehow more like a blackboard and more friendly I would say. But a real blackboard in use I never saw for decades whilst I was in research attending conferences and so on and I forgot about them. (I wasn't teaching, but I think the lecturing where I was was largely with slides too).

    Then my job changed out of research to something of which a small but the most interesting part involved taking in and reporting back on a wide variety of scientific conferences and training activities over all the sciences. It was still nearly all the same. In all disciplines. Everywhere.

    Until one day my scientific butterfly samplings took me to the Newton Institute, Cambridge. Many mathematicians here will no doubt know it, or at least its standing. For others I should say this: if you have read some of the popularisations of modern, last few decades, mathematics you may have the impression that it is just a different thing from what you know as mathematics. The calculations you do a little of resemble it the same way that your school experiments verifying Hooke's law with weights and springs or something resemble the work at the Large Hadron Collider. You can't do anything on your own just in the study, it seems, unless you can insert yourself into some such large-scale structure. At the Newton they have six-month research binges on some topical theme to which anybody who is anybody in the specialist field tries to get to for a time, perhaps for months, and exchange or collaborate with others, including one or two weeks climax conference where the top people talk (all confirming another impression you may have got reading the pop maths maths books as well as those about abstruse theoretical physics like Theory of Everything and its generalisations, that the lifestyle is rather enviable in comparison with even the most fashionable biologist, who must be tied to his laboratory mainly.)

    I reported back that the facilities were Excellent, or rather, hors categorie. You cannot compare it to any other meetings facility, it is more an intellectual Accelerator”. An Excellerator I should have said, but I only thought of that just now, I expect I'm not the first.

    One instrument illustrating the peculiarity of mathematics among the sciences: in the sessions attended they were making heavy use of a visual aid I haven't seen used before – blackboards. (Well now I cast my mind back a not dissimilar device was in use when I was at school – it must be a rediscovery.) There are also overhead projectors but more often than not they remove them as being 'in the way'. This leaves eight blackboards in a lecture room which they cover with formulae, just like you see in those old photos of Einstein etc.

    The whole Newton Institute is made from blackboard plus of course glass windows, otherwise it would be too dark to see what is written on them.
    This is not an exaggeration

    At all moments in any discussion anywhere in the place there are several handy where the discussants can write down their ideas and calculations.

    Visiting journalists as they find math a bit hard to understand or explain fix the reports rather on the blackboards, also found in the lifts and the toilets where I was told one can see theories evolving collaboratively over a period. Who knows how many mathematical inspirations were in the past lost forever for lack of this means of immediate capture? And how many trees saved by it?

    (I don't have any pictures of the wall–and–pillar blackboard-covered general areas, but here from the Institute site is seminar room 1)

    For lectures I was told that one of the advantages of blackboards is that they slow lecturers down. (This may be somewhat offset if the calligraphy is impossible to read, as I found in one case, though for the mathematical audience familiar with what the squiggles are about this was not a problem.) They usually use eight at a time, but this is not enough for most lectures, so they use that other schooldays technology the blackboard eraser.
    It must have been a wish to not confess my total overawe that induced me to conclude with this overthetop suggestion for an improvement:
    The only thing lacking is a complete polygonal (e.g. Euclideanally constructible heptadecanal) or polyhedral auditorium so the audience could appreciate the whole argument in the round but this will come someday somewhere no doubt of it.
    Last edited: May 20, 2017
  4. May 26, 2017 #24
    There doesn't seem to be much difference here to me. If you write the derivation or problem in the same amount of steps, whether it is on a whiteboard, a powerpoint, or outside on the ground in chalk, the speed at which the students write isn't going to change much if anything at all. I think you'll have less writing to do if you make a powerpoint since you only have to do it once. Either method you'll still have to talk the students through the problem or about the problem. Also I second Scottdaves suggestion. The reason being is because I can rewind this video and get a better understanding of what is said and I go to class better prepared because I already know the math involved. I would recommend making the video less than 20 minutes. This is about the time most people start to lose focus and much math in Physics can be explained within this time. I haven't taken Quantum or E&M yet, but the only math derivation I've seen that requires more time is solving Schrodinger's Equation.
  5. May 30, 2017 #25
    I learn better when the professor or teacher writes the equations. At least he/she will be obliged to explain every variable he/she writes, as they tend to explain while writing.

    Some professors that run slides on formulas... My eyes, really.

    It looks like a formula freakshow, you know you sit there while you get bombarded by flying formulas everywhere
  6. May 30, 2017 #26


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    A hybrid approach that I don't think I have seen mentioned here is to use a TabletPC,
    where you can have some items [outline, graphics, equations, etc...] prepared ahead of time,
    possibly as a template where you can handwrite in derivations or calculations in real-time in front of the class.
    The finished product can be printed as a PDF and posted on a website.
    One could also post the template file as a PDF ahead of time for students to print out so that they can fill it in during class.

    [One can write on a powerpoint slide with a TabletPC stylus... but the inking experience isn't as nice as in Windows Journal or OneNote.]

    I recently mentioned TabletPCs here
    as well as older posts on PF (dating back to 2004)
  7. Jun 2, 2017 #27


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    I actually sometimes use the low-tech version of this: projecting directly on the whiteboard and complementing with handwriting.
  8. Jun 4, 2017 #28


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    I do this as well. Of course, after I roll the screen up.
  9. Jun 7, 2017 #29


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    There is one lecture hall where I teach with a "nice" whiteboard marker trace right on the projection screen :mad:
  10. Jun 7, 2017 #30

    Dr Transport

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    it pains me to suggest this, but I taught all year in a public school system where smart boards were installed in every classroom and lab.


    I was hesitant at first, but you can convert PowerPoint to a notebook and display your slides. You can then write on your slides any clarification that you need to, you can move things around, draw diagrams etc..... Still not a total convert, but I can be convinced.
  11. Apr 20, 2018 #31
    Another hybrid approach is to us a document camera to project a graphic image . Like the old fashion overhead projector You can then write on the graphic if you wish. Placing a clear film over the graphic will prevent the graphic from being permanently marked. This has an advantage in hand drawing graphs, or which might be easier/quicker than using a drawing program.

    One advantage of the document camera is that you can face the audience as you write.

    I feel the necessity to annotate (add additional information to) the graphic to keep the attention of the audience. Writing as opposed to presenting another slide with the same information paces the presentation so the audience is not rushed to try and absorb it. Apparently the effective use of slides as an educational tool varies according to the instructor, the audience, and the subject. In case you haven't Google "use of slides in teaching" for advice and opinions on their use and effectiveness .
  12. Apr 24, 2018 #32


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    Caveat emptor, I am not a University lecturer but a high school physics/maths teacher. My students are, I suppose, a step behind in terms of independence and initiative. However, I find that slides are not as useful as whiteboards as my students seem to understand more if I explain as I write, rather than just explaining a pre-prepared slide where they might lose track of which particular part of a slide I'm referring to.

    When I do feel the need to create slides, I make them in painful detail - each slide contains just one more step from the one before.
  13. Apr 24, 2018 #33


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    I've used Smartboards at school and once you get used to them they are great, I still haven't found a better system.
    You can just use it as a Whiteboard but one on which you can flip back and forwards between pages and then save the whole thing. Or you can import pictures (grest if like me you can't draw to save your life), or pre-prepare diagrams, import video clips etc. You can make the notes available in pdf form to your students later.

    (And then you can also mention in your performance review how the facility to save your lecture notes in this way helps you to reflect on your practice ;) This vomit worthy point is crucially important in UK state education these days. )
  14. May 13, 2018 #34
    At this point we have a variety of opinions on methodology but it may prove to be a better exercise by simply picking out a single topic that would be able to be covered in a typical high school grade 12 physics class, and consider how you would put that class together, assuming you have a limited time of 70 minutes, with students who already understand any required preceding concepts. it could be a fruitful challenge rather than simply asking everyone's anecdotal evidence. this way you can all argue the specific things dealt with in the creation of a particular lesson. this would hopefully lead to a more nuanced understanding towards what goes into lesson planning in general.

    i myself teach with a combination of slides that i make using photoshop, video, white board use, and demonstrations in the classroom itself.
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