November 30, 2018

iPad + GoodNotes + Logi R500 Presenter = The Maybe Best Hardware/Software Combo for Giving Lectures and Talks

Since a couple of weeks I'm giving a lecture in the Master's course for Informatics at our university. One of the biggest differences of giving a lecture vs. giving a conference talk is that the lecture is more interactive. Or in other words: I ask my students stuff and they ask me stuff.

Well, students are students and for this reason they do not use the first $n rows of the lecture hall. Instead, they use the last $n rows of the lecture hall. If you are now asking: can you hear what a student sitting in the second last row of a lecture hall says? No. Not. A. Word.

For this reason I decided not to hide behind the speaker's desk but to go where the audience is and do the lecture - more or less - from the middle of the lecture hall. That works fine. I hear the students. Most of them do not dare to sleep when the guy giving the lecture stands besides them. And I can still point to things on slides with the laser pointer of my Logitech presenter device and also flip pages with that thing.

However, I also like to draw on slides now and then when things get a little more complicated. So I found myself in the need of switching between my Macbook (which I can control from remote with the presenter) and my iPad (which I cannot control from remote but where I can draw on with the Apple Pencil). And that is of cause not the thing you want to do…

Recently, I stumbled by accident upon a new version of the Logitech presenter (R500) which also connects to devices via Bluetooth. Well, I ordered that thing despite being a bit skeptical whether the presentation software I am using on the iPad would support that thing.

The software I use on the iPad to present stuff is called GoodNotes (https://www.goodnotes.com). Originally, GoodNotes was designed for handwritten notes and drawings. However, it turns out that when you connect the iPad via an HDMI adapter to a screen or video beamer you get something like a presentation mode. On the iPad's screen you have the slides and all the controls, i.e., you can switch between pens, markers and the eraser. The audience only sees the slides and what you are writing. Nice.

Well, today the R500 arrived. Despite having lost the nice ergonomics and haptics of the old model (R400), and having a laser pointer that packs less punch than the R400, the R500 works perfectly with the iPad and also with GoodNotes.

I'm pretty thrilled to finally have the tool stack that suits my needs and thought: let's share that one.

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