The technology worked today. One of our graduate students graciously resolved the recognition problem my laptop was having with the projector and then he stopped-by my classroom to make sure all was working well before my lecture started.
There is a certain liberation in using Powerpoint in the classroom. For example, I don’t use notes with it—given the projected text and pictures—and this provides for a smoother flow in my lectures. The swiftness of the technology allows for more examples, and the pictures help to explain material. I’ve slipped-in pictures of the people who are responsible for the ideas we are discussing—the history enriches, for me, the botanical ideas and helps to enlarge the story. I introduced Johann Wolfgang Goethe* as well as the Victorian anatomist Richard Owen in today’s lecture.
Some of us, I think, fear that students can become complacent in the face of Powerpoint—we worry they will drift into a television glare passivity. I didn’t see that in my lecture today, but my class of seven students is a little small for passivity. I asked the students at the beginning of class to continue to ask questions and not allow the important conversational quality we’ve established to be lost, and they responded well. I had a very enjoyable day in the classroom.
*I would like to have talked about Goethe’s Faust and his travels in Italy but couldn’t quite work them into our conversation on homology.