By Dr. Kenrick Mock, Professor of Computer Science & Associate Dean, College of Engineering
Since their introduction in the early 2000’s, Microsoft Tablet PC’s have become more and more capable as a presentation tool. In addition to projecting content from a laptop, Tablet PC’s have many benefits, including:
- Easy transition between electronic slides for prepared material and whiteboard mode for dynamic material
- No blocking the whiteboard while writing
- Ability to enlarge or refer back to previously written material
- Simple and inclusive lecture capture through screen recording software or by saving handwritten content for later review
Some studies, e.g. Walker and Stremler (http://tplab.vuse.vanderbilt.edu/docs/walker08-IJEE_proof.pdf) report that students are more likely to pay attention to lectures presented via Tablet PC.
However, one problem presenting with a Tablet PC is that the cursor changes to a tiny dot when the pen is near the screen. This is no problem when you are writing on the screen – after all, you know where the tip of your pen is located. However, this can be troublesome for students in a live audience, because the dot is too small to see on a projector screen. The problem is exacerbated if you wish to use the pen to point or highlight something on the screen.
The problem (and solution) is demonstrated in this video:
To solve this problem you can use the PenAttention or CursorAttention software that can be freely downloaded from http://www.cse.uaa.alaska.edu/~afkjm/PenAttention/. The software puts a highlight around the location of the pen so it can be seen by the audience. You can also customize the size, transparency, and color of the highlight.
Note that the current version of PenAttention is incompatible with Windows 8, but does run in Windows 7. However, you can use CursorAttention and toggle the highlight on and off with control-alt-F9 in Windows 8.