The Lecture Notes

I post my (incomplete) lecture notes online. (Yes, incomplete. Why? More on that in a future post.) I post the notes in HTML format, the "language of the web." I could post them in other formats, but I choose not to.

PDF files are really inflexible. You can look at them, and print them out...and that's about all. What if you want to make the typeface bigger or smaller? It's almost impossible. So you can't edit them or (easily) load them into other software. Why would anyone want to edit them? Quite a few students type in the fill-in words, which are so inconveniently missing in the lecture notes.

OK, so how about Word files? They are totally flexible, and you can even edit them with Google Docs or the free Open Office. I've considered this, but it would be a lot of work to convert what I've got to DOC files.

The ultimate has to be: PowerPoint. If I were to post my PPT slides, all students could have the exact duplicate of what I show on the big screen in class. That's one reason why I don't post them. If I did, attendance in class would drop. Why bother coming to class, right? Maybe just the most motivated students would come. Look, we're all adults here: you don't have to come to class...ever. But you don't have to pass, either. And isn't it my job to help you learn (and pass the course)?

I like to have neat little demos and things in class. If everyone had those beforehand, it would spoil the surprise. I could edit out interactive components before I post the slides, but that would mean a lot of extra work. (I'm all about not doing extra work. I like doing other things, like eating, sleeping, and holding the baby until she screams in my ear for her mama.) Printing out PowerPoint slides is cumbersome, too.

I've used HTML format because it's super easy to adjust the size of the typeface. (Don't know how? Just ask me.) You can also load a page of lecture notes into Word (simply paste the URL of the lecture you want into the open files dialog box and you're good to go). When you print them out, there's a lot of room in the margins for you to take extra notes, make annotations, and other things that help you to learn.

Putting aside the fact that the notes are incomplete, what format do you prefer? Do you want to download a bunch of 50 MB PowerPoint slides? Is Word your favourite? Or are they okay as is?

Why aren't you studying?


Patrick said...

I prefer to take longhand notes, actually. I found my natural note taking "flow" was upset by the fill in the blanks format.

Having said that, I am more of a note taker than most people.

Karsten Loepelmann said...

@Patrick: I hope you're able to keep up. I do go through my slides pretty fast; I assume that everyone printed out the notes...

If you miss something, let me know.

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