Tablet PC Benefits: Annotating Slides

Tim Berry, CEO of Palo Alto Software recently blogged about why he likes his tablet PC. In fact, he gives five reasons for it. It's a good article that echoes what a lot of other tablet PC enthusiasts have said about the benefits of this form factor.

For me, one of the biggest benefits of using tablet PCs -- i.e. being able to write on Powerpoint slides mid-presentation -- became very clear very quickly when I was first exposed to this technology in the classroom. This was thanks to John Asker who taught us Managerial Economics at MBS. John conducted his class lectures using Powerpoint slides on which he took notes (with a stylus) using his Fujitsu Lifebook convertible tablet PC.

Doing this was especially useful when explaining, for example, complex ideas that involved diagrams and areas under the curve. At the end of each class, John would save those annotated slides and then post them onto the course website as PDF files.

Here's an example...and you can imagine how much harder it would have been to explain the concept presented here without either lots of whiteboard work or more complex Powerpoint slides:

One of John Asker's slides from class

The same is true for the following slide, except that this one is even more complicated (and even harder to explain on the board...unless you used multiple colours, of course, though even then it would probably be harder to do):

One of John Asker's slides from class

In the study term that followed this one, we took a course called Economics and Public Policy that was, basically, a course on managerial macroeconomics. In that, everything was taught using the whiteboard and, at times, that got really difficult to follow. I remember thinking back than how much better the course could have been had the professor been using Powerpoint slides and a tablet PC. Oh well. Widespread adoption takes time.

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