[lpi-discuss] looking for courseware

Bryan J. Smith b.j.smith at ieee.org
Fri May 13 17:42:35 EDT 2005

From:  Jeremy Anderson 
> I found that creating all my worksheets and lecture notes
> (and the various instructions I handed out) in HTML,
> using vi, was a great time saver.

OpenOffice XML formats are text compressed with LZ77 (GZip, PKZip, others),
and are very comparable to HTML.

Adobe Postscript can be a bit bigger, depending on rendering,
although I've found the output from pdflatex, especially when using native, vector Encapsulated Postscript graphics,
to be far, far smaller than equivalent HTML + bitmap graphics.

> Furthermore, it kept my entire
> class small enough to fit on a 
> floppy, and made it trivial to post
> everything on a web page.

Try having 300 slides and 50 graphics under 1MB.
I've done it with a single PDF using LaTeX + EPS vector graphics for network/system diagrams.
OpenOffice XML didn't end up being too much bigger, but it didn't fit on a floppy.

When converted to common bitmap graphics used to web browsers, or even PNG,
it was over 10MB.
HTML is fine when you're just pushing words.
But I don't find it anywhere near viable for production quality,
and with graphics, it's typically better to go with something else.

Although I think we all can agree than DOC - even the latest versions - really bloat and start crashing excessively when you start adding even  just simple vector diagrams.
I personally like pointing out the differences between Visio and  OpenDraw/StarDraw, especially after import.

I used to use Dia, but OpenDraw/StarDraw is really good for EPS export.

> I dislike most fancy presentation
> software because it detracts
> from the material being presented.

Then turn it off!
Furthermore, Impress' SWF (Flash) export is sometimes the most ideal format - expectially when you have interaction/motion to make points.

> The PowerPoint mentality of
> "every word must be on a slide"
> rapidly overwhelms students.  

I disagree.
You can link in other content, just like HTML, in any program.
And with LaTeX, you get a crapload hyperref'd "for free."
In fact, treating a presentation as an "outline" is _no_different_ in Impress or anything else.

That problem has _nothing_ to do with the program, and falls 100% with the presenter.

> Worse, the practice of handing printouts of one's 
> slides wastes paper

Oh my God, you just didn't try to assert that did you now?
You know Impress does PDF and SWF export, correct?

These above 2 "arguments" are about the most irrelevant I've ever seen.
They are _no_ different for _any_ program/format - HTM doesn't solve them at all!

> and gets the student out of taking notes.

Now hold on!
Presentations are just an Outline.
When printed, there is plenty of space for them to make notes.
So instead of just rushing to take down concepts and the outline,
the student can take follow your lecture, and then add the notes they want for extra understanding.

As a former, formal public educator (even if only briefly), adults are not people who practice notetaking on.
You give them the outline with the main concepts and terms, and they _they_ note additional focus they need.
If you don't give it to them, then they are rushing just to take notes and get the basic outline/concepts down and aren't listening effectively.

While college professors might use the technique as a "weed,"
professionals should be given the outline and main concepts, so they take _effective_, _personalized_ notes.
And once again, this has _nothing_ to do with a choice of program - but formal educational theory.

> When students complained "I can't take notes and listen to
> your lecture at the same time", I typically recommended a tape
> recorder.

I recommend you provide the printed outline and definitions,
and let them listen and take the individual, _personal_ notes they need,
instead of seeing them struggle just to take down the outline and  terminology.

This isn't high school where you're teaching them formal note taking,
or college where professors are weeding out ineffective students for academia.
Your sole purpose and a teacher of technology is the transfer of knowledge, and that means you give them your outline and main concepts,
and then they take notes atop of that which are more individualized.

Otherwise you're just placing "double work" on them and reducing the rate of knowledge transfer.

> ISTR that the Air Force Academy has banned powerpoint entirely,


No one here admits to currently using PowerPoint (only to using it in the past).
We use Impress, and some of us used Harvard Graphics _prior_ to PowerPoint's existance.
You're turning the use of a "presentation program" into an avenue against Microsoft ...

Like they invented it or something.

So don't go there because we're not even talking Impress,
let alone care about the masses of people who do - but we _do_ use Presentation programs.

So deal with those of us who use _Impress_ in the OpenOffice/StarOffice suites.
Especially those of us who used StarImpress to export HTML a good 10 years ago.

> Much like trying to teach writing
> with MS Word, people quickly get
> wrapped up in silly things like 
> different bullet styles, 
> fonts, font colors, background
> pictures, bouncing letters and 
> other irrelevancies.

Again, _stop_!
We are talking about LyX and DocBook more than anything else.
So don't go down a path that associates anyone who doesn't use HTML with people who not only use PowerPoint, but MS Word too.

We use _Impress_ and things like LyX or DocBook, maybe Open/StarWriter instead..

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