Delivering Presentations with the iPad

I teach a college class on Visual Communication twice a week. So that means that twice a week, I pack up my laptop and haul it to class. It’s not that heavy, but since it is our main computer, taking the laptop wasn’t always convenient. So I figured I’d try using my new iPad (with the VGA adapter) and Keynote for the lecture.

Building the presentation

I’m really impressed with Keynote for the iPad. I was able to create a very simple presentation on the iPad in about 30 minutes. It’s intuitive and very easy to use.

Please note: This version of Keynote cannot do everything that the full version of Keynote can do. There are limitations - typeface selection, limited customization of templates, difficulty importing existing presentations. And the way you sync documents is exceptionally clumsy. 

If you are wanting to build an amazingly complex presentation, you’ll need to do it on the Mac. If you need to access an existing library of Keynote or Powerpoint presentations, I’d stick to using the laptop. But for building (or importing) a simple presentation, it’s nice. And considering that it’s $10, I’d say it’s well worth the price.

Hooking up to the projector

The VGA adapter looks pretty simple. Plug it into the dock connector, connect the VGA cable and you are good to go… And for the most part, it is that simple. Be aware that when working from Keynote, video projection doesn’t start until you hit the play button.

When the iPad is in presenting mode, your slides show through the projector and the iPad has a simple forward/back control. And you can simply tap to advance. If you push and hold on the iPad touch screen, a faux “laser” pointer pops up.

My only complaint is that the slide thumbnails are so small. In my classroom, the screen is behind me and over my head, so I occasionally had to turn around to see what slide was being presented.

A screenshot of the presentation screen for Keynote on the iPad.

Will I do it again?

Absolutely. I use relatively simple presentations for my classes. So Keynote is perfect for how I’m using it. Plus not having to lug my laptop to class is nice. I’m optimistic that Keynote will continue to improve on the iPad… But as a lightweight presentation setup, the iPad is absolutely a winner.

Fontstruct in Education

I’ve been playing around with Fontstruct actively for a few months and love the application. I saw this snippet on their blog today and think it’s an amazing idea.

Among many possible topics we are specially interested in the use of FontStruct for education in type design.

FontStruct is great for education because it’s free, it’s simple and it’s a lot of fun. It can be used on any computer with a modern browser and Internet access, independently of platform and without installation of additional software. FontStruct stimulates sharing and collaboration, while respecting the creator’s right to decide about it. Users are presented with a set of flexible and familiar Creative Commons licenses to choose from. Peer-review, user votes and the sought after Top Picks complete the package that makes of FontStruct not just a tool, but an exciting environment for learning how to build fonts and design typefaces.

I think that design programs could use Fontstruct as a really effective part of the type education curriculum. Students could build their own alphabet, publish designs for peers to review, learn about licensing, examine designs from experienced designers. It’s free and students can access it from any home computer. And Fontstruct is very easy to use.

I think it’s a perfect way to get students of all ages to think more deeply about typography.