1.1.1 Equipment


• Essential

Web Server - Your campus will have at least one web server, and this can acts as a useful place to leave files. Another (not recommended) alternative is to set up your own web server. I have set mine up using Linux (Unix for PCs) on a standard desktop computer, this can also be done using Windows NT (TM) produced by Microsoft. Between your files, and the students work, you should expect to fill tens of megabytes conservatively or up to gigabytes for large files and/or classes.

Faculty Computers - You will need at least one computer. A laptop is best, and can often be taken to the classroom. Networked desktop machines in the office and in the classroom can be set up with appropriate software.

Data Projector - If possible get a high quality data projector that will connect to your computer. If this is not possible, use an LCD panel on an overhead projector, this will appear a bit dark. Worst case use a computer to TV converter, this will be the least expensive, but the graphic quality is very poor. (in many classrooms and on rolling carts - ask IT)

Word Processor/Publishing Software - You will need a word processor of some description to prepare web pages. This is actually somewhat difficult for lecture material. The word processor typically needs to be able to include figures and possibly equations. The format used in this package must then be able to be converted to HTML. At the time of writing the variety of option is limited, but the market will soon be flooded. At present the best solution that I have been able to find is Adobe Framemaker. This runs on PCs, Macintosh, and Unix platforms.

Browser - There are a number of excellent browsers available today, but the two best are available from Netscape and Microsoft (use Netscape when possible). Both can be obtained at no charge under certain conditions. Either will do for the students, and this software can be used as a presentation tool in class. (www.netscape.com)


• Optional

Application Software - I have used packages such as Working Model, and Mathcad to support lectures. Anybody using the browsers for course notes will need copies of application software to included files. These files will allow the notes to become interactive, visual, experimental, etc. This could include other software such as Photoshop for modifying pictures.

Digital Camera/Scanner - A scanner can be very useful for capturing images on paper. But when possible this should be discouraged. Scanned documents are very large, and can be very slow when downloaded for viewing. Scanned photographs also tend to have a poor quality. A very good option is to buy a digital camera that captures images directly to digital format. These cameras come in a variety of prices, but a good midrange camera can be purchased for $600 that will give good quality photographs. Within a short period of time these costs will drop quickly, and real time video capture will be an option. Other poor options include camcorders with image capture hardware in a PC. This gives grainy pictures or low resolution. (available from IT and in many departments)



1.1.2 Techniques


• The computer based presentation can be quite similar to overheads, therefore a sequence that helps improve the attention level is,

1. Some overview that sets the reason and objective for the section. (a good place for pictures)

2. An overview of relevant theory.

3. A simple example problem - with solution and notes about steps, notations, etc.

4. A simple unsolved drill problem.

5. Additional notes on technique and methods.

6. An advanced problem with solution.

7. An unsolved complex problem, done on the board.


• The lecture style needs to be dynamic, some ideas are,

- Use the computer to present new material, then turn on the lights and discuss or do problems on the board.

- If the computer screen is in front of a whiteboard, pull up the screen, and add notes using the screen underneath.

- Ask students questions about what was just covered.

- Get the students to calculate numbers, write, draw, etc..

- Say something ridiculous to get a response.

- Tell a joke.

- Walk into the seats.

- Borrow something for an example.