Implications of the potential proliferation of tablet technology

28 09 2011

Twitter is abuzz with the excitement of the pending release of Amazon’s new tablet device to rival the iPad.

An excellent summary of the news story is available via the Chicago Tribune’s website, referencing The Wall Street Journal 6:10 a.m. CDT, September 28, 2011: ‘Amazon unveiling new tablet to challenge iPad today

I would like to allocate some time to look into the nature of tablet devices and to explore how an increase in both awareness and use of such hardware may impact on use of presentation technology and presentation style/approach. Some questions I am pondering:

  • Would an increase in the use of tablet devices by the general population effect the expectations of students or audiences?
  • Would they expect a greater level of interactivity during presentations? For example through using their own tablet devices?
  • For presenters, will they more noticeably start to break away from using PowerPoint if they have greater options and control in the use of personal or institutional tablet devices? For example by using apps such as Prezi for iPad or Keynote for iPad?




From the audience’s perspective

22 03 2011

Some personal thoughts about a recently attended event, which shall remain anonymous in order to make candid reflections (not revelations though as I expect most people have had similar experiences/thoughts):

  • The room environment can impinge on the learning experience. We were warned about the erratic temperature control before the beginning of the event; it didn’t bother me but noticeably bothered others including one attendee who donned a knitted hat!
  • A total blackout can make a more immersive learning experience. In the case of one presentation the total blackout was very effective, creating an almost cinematic experience due to the speaker’s clever use of PowerPoint (building a visual narrative) and excellent oral delivery.
  • A total blackout can be really physically uncomfortable and disconcerting. It must have been a good number of years since I last experienced a lecture theatre in such darkness; when the lights came on for questions at the end of each presentation everyone was virtually blinded by the light. It was also impossible to take notes during most of the presentations, apart from those presentations which included slides with white backgrounds when there was just enough light to see.
  • I reflected on the presentations given at the event thinking about how I could improve both the PowerPoint presentations I have given as well as improve my presentation skills generally. From conversations with others at the event I think this largely comes down to: good visuals; clever use of terminology; clarity of thought and expression; and above all practice!!




Integrating Presentation Software with Hardware

28 09 2010

After visiting the University of Surrey’s SPLASH space, I was put in contact with a company called Reflex, who is their preferred integrator. Andi Allan, Technical Sales Manager, very kindly answered the following questions:

Q.1. Are there incompatibility issues with the hardware and various operating systems?

No real incompatibilities, but multi-touch (like an iPhone or iPad) is only available with Windows 7. Otherwise the Sympodium and Smart boards are compatible with a decent range of operating systems and any hardware that can run them.

Q.2. Do you have any advice to offer regarding mobility of devices e.g. to share in a large informal group (i.e. sharing the computer by physically moving it around rather than watching or participating in a presentation)?

In general mobile audio visual equipment is always more prone to failure than fixed installations. This can be mitigated by using solid state drives, shock-mounting the hardware and so on.

Q.3. Are there any issues with different versions of Microsoft PowerPoint or Keynote?

The Smart software works ‘on top of’ any other software running, so should be fine with any version of Office or any other PC application. Effectively the Smart system acts as a replacement mouse.

[Andi has asked Smart and will get back to me about restrictions to do with specific software versions.]

Q.4. The University of Surrey directed me to a website with training videos, do you find that staff use the videos or prefer support face-to-face?

I think a mix is most effective. An initial in-person training session (which we can provide via a partner) is good for showing people how to use the technology and to inspire them to use it creatively and make the most of it. Online videos can then be very helpful for reminders, quick reference and so on.

Links:





Visiting SPLASH at the University of Surrey

6 08 2010

Yesterday afternoon, Alistair Morey, Learning Development Coordinator for SPLASH (Student Personal Learning And Study Hub) at the University of Surrey, gave me a tour of SPLASH. This innovative space is described well on their website, however it was useful to get a tour and have a chance to try out some of the technology, especially since I only passed through on my last visit, two years ago.

SPLASH includes: space to work quietly in front of PCs or with your own laptop; an informal area with moveable furniture, plenty of space, and two ‘work pods’; three bookable meeting rooms; and a larger training room. The training room features a dry-erase white wall, which looks like an ordinary wall, and a Sympodium PC connected to the projector.

As well as the novel experience of being asked to ‘write on a wall’, Alistair commented on the way students have to interact as a group, working together, and sharing the whiteboard pens.

I was able to have a go on the Sympodium PC, now renamed SMART Podium interactive pen displays, and although it was very easy to use I could also see that practice would be required to give a seamless and professional presentation or workshop.

There were some concerns that the informal area might turn into a bit of a common room, however this has not happened. I wonder if this is partly because food and drink are prohibited in this area. There are also two Sympodium PCs, attached by a moveable armature to a coffee table, in front of a circular seating area. This enables the students to collaborate by sharing the PC amongst the whole group, literally passing it from one person to the other by use of the swinging armature.

The University of Surrey were early pioneers in the UK in this form of social learning, but it has now taken off at a number of other Universities as well.

Follow-up: some comments on the features of SMART Podium interactive pen displays





Fashion Promotion and Imaging

31 03 2010

Last Wednesday I began my case studies by interviewing Jules Findley, Course Leader for Fashion Promotion and Imaging at the University for the Creative Arts, Epsom campus.
I also met with Kristy Widdicombe, Faculty Librarian For Fashion and Management, who used Adobe Presenter with Adobe Captivate last year to produce a learning and teaching object on ‘research’.
Kristy introduced me to Neville Kemp, Careers Adviser with the University’s Careers Service, who gave me a really useful demo of the Wimba Classroom software that they are trialling at the moment. Our conversation also raised issues to do with the role hardware has to play in multimedia presentations.