I love chalkboards (or blackboards if you prefer). I love showing up to give a talk somewhere and just picking up the chalk and going for it. No heavily over-packed slides full of too many fast moving things, as happens too much these days. If there is coloured chalk available, that’s fantastic – special effects. It is getting harder to find these boards however. Designers of teaching rooms and other spaces seem embarrassed by them, and so they either get smaller or disappear, often in favour of the less than magical whiteboard.
So in my continued reinvention of the way I produce slides for projection (I do this every so often), I’ve gone another step forward in returning to the look (and feel, to some extent) of the chalkboard in my projected talks, using Keynote to present. (On reflection, a lot of what I do tends to be using high production values to produce something that looks low-production!) So now I can have a chalkboard everywhere! There’s an example above. I tested it out in my Harvey Mudd College colloquium yesterday and it went very well. The undergraduates learned about how to do actual computations in black hole thermodynamics, which I don’t think they were expecting. They seemed to enjoy it. Amusingly, they just happened to be doing thermodynamics in their class this week, so the timing was perfect!
For those interested in the technical side of how I made the slides, I’ll post a few notes and an animation later.