Mar 03 2014

Warning: Step Away from the Podium

Pepperdine finds simple technology makes it easier than ever to engage students.

Pepperdine University recently evaluated technologies that could help faculty move around while presenting traditional classroom lectures. The goal is to allow instructors to step away from the podium in order to better engage their audiences. Instructors and trainers who are engaging have broken their ties to the podium. Many presenters remain within two feet of the podium, as if trapped by an electric fence. So how do you break this habit and still control your content?

One simple solution is to use a clicker to advance your PowerPoint and Keynote slides. A USB dongle plugs into the computer and receives information from the remote, allowing you to advance the slides at a pace that’s compatible with your speech.

But what if you need the visual cues to help guide your oral presentation? There are plenty of helpful tools; many work with a mobile device, such as a smartphone or a tablet, and connect to your computer via a wireless Internet connection. This setup lets you walk around the room with your presentation on your mobile device, and as you make changes or advance the slides, the application signals your computer to do so as well.

Because the computer mirrors the mobile device, you can freely move about and fully engage your audience.

When an instructor moves around the classroom, students tend to pay attention; they’re less likely to browse the Internet or check Facebook if they know their instructor may walk by. Students also become active listeners, because they visually follow their instructor as he or she moves around the room, and that breaks the monotony — and the tuning out — that comes with always looking forward.

With wireless presentation tools, students are no longer being lectured at or read to from the computer screen. As instructors circulate through the audience, eye contact increases, making students feel more connected to their instructor. In addition, instructors can move closer to soft-spoken students to better hear questions and comments.

Collaboration is another plus: If the instructor passes the tablet around, students can contribute to the digital presentation. In some instances, students can connect their own tablets in order to show their work, which encourages immediate evaluation.

There are many products that remotely connect computers to mobile devices. Doceri is an application that can be installed on both a computer and a mobile device. It also has a whiteboard feature that lets you make on-the-fly annotations.

Pepperdine University faculty members currently use Doceri and presentation remotes. However, hardware solutions for presentation control, such as Apple’s AirPlay and Crestron’s AirMedia, are being considered for implementation.


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