I have said before that technology itself does not make somebody a good or bad teacher but there are ways that we can use technology to our advantage. PowerPoint presentations, for example, prevent my students from having to deal with my terrible handwriting. Despite the ubiquity of PowerPoint, though, I am surprised how often I attend class sessions or presentations where somebody is constantly running back and forth from the computer to the rest of the space in order to advance to the next slide or image. Even worse, I think, is when the presenter has somebody sitting next to the computer to advance the slides, since this situation usually results in at least a few awkward transitions that are either too early or too late. All of these could be prevented by the purchase of one of these.
The reason for the ubiquity of PowerPoint and the lack of presentation tools may be the cost of the presenters. $35 seems steep, especially for graduate students, but the difference between teaching without one and teaching with one is huge. Without, instructors have a limited range of motion because they can never go too far from the computer. With, instructors can be anywhere in the classroom when moving through whatever they are presenting. The freedom to move around the classroom actually affected the way I felt when teaching, making me wish I hadn’t taught for several semesters without one. Even if instructors cannot purchase a presenter for personal use, colleges and universities should be able to provide themas part of the setup for presentations. One of these presenters would also be useful if provided at conferences (though this may be too much to ask when conference organizers can’t even ensure that a laptop will be provided).
A clicker has been the best thing I ever bought for my teaching and presentations.