Chalkless Lectures

Posted by Natasa Brouwer, on Oct. 5, 2021, 3:04 p.m.


Name lecturer

Marcel Vreeswijk, Jean Sebastièn Caux, Jan de Boer, Auke Piete Colijn, Erik van Heumen


Large, medium and small groups.


Lectures in physics, bachelor programme.

Situation before the intervention

The chalkboard (or a white board) is in many lectures an important tool for presenting and developing a concept, but it has a number of drawbacks:

  • The lecturer turns his back towards the students whilst writing and is in these moment unable to see possible reactions to what he/she is writing
  • The writing on the board is often difficult to see in video-recordings of the lecture
  • The writing is lost when erased
  • For some, chalk (dust) is a nuisance.


A digital alternative in the form a writing tablet with pen offers a solution to all of these drawbacks. The high-resolution writing tablet offers the possibility to use handwriting on the digital screen, for instance in combination with a slideshow containing other formulas, images, graphs or movies that were prepared for the lecture. The writing is stored on the computer and can be shared afterwards with the students as a document or video-recording.

Marcel Vreeswijk in the room C0.05

Erik van Heumen giving lecture for Physics students.

Learning outcomes

The students are more actively involved during the lectures. The survey results were higher in comparison to the year before within the same course.


The tablets were used for interactive lectures in different courses in Physics.

Examples in the classroom

Login first in UvA streaminig media with your UvAnetID.

A high-resolution writing tablet is necessary in order to write with the same amount of detail as is offered by its analogue counterpart. These tablets control the cursor of your computer and can easily be used in combination with MS Powerpoint or, alternatively, one can obtain other and better suitable software for their purposes. In the project The Power of Chalkless two types of Wacom professional drawing tablets were used.

  • Wacom Intuos Pro Medium
    • Advantages
      • Wireless
      • Does not weigh much, so you can walk around with the tablet
      • Connects easily to your own computer
    • Drawbacks
      • Does not contain a screen, so you look at your screen whilst you write on the tablet (like a computer mouse). This takes some getting used to!
  • Wacom Cintiq 13HD
    • Advantages
      • Does include a screen, so you can look at what you write at the same time. Compare with a ‘regular’ tablet (like the iPad) but with a much higher resolution and a natural hand writing position.
      • H.008 and C0.05 are equipped with all the necessary hard- and software, so it is just a matter of plug-and-write.
    • Drawbacks
      • Not wireless
      • Too heavy to carry around
      • Complex to connect to your own computer and the beamer in a lecture room at the same time (due to the built-in screen)
      • BUT only rooms H.008 and C0.05 are equipped with all the necessary hard- and software, so it is just a matter of plug-and-write.

Software usage (last update: 23-09-2015)
For writing

For the screen capture

  • Apple Quicktime
  • Camtasia:
    UvA campus licence (contact your ICT contact person), 30 days trial at Camtasia
  • UvA webcollegeservice
    the weclecture recording needs a special setting - check at UvA webcollegeservice if the setting is correct


A) Experience (satisfaction) of students
The survey results were better in comparison to the year before within the same course.

B) Experience (satisfaction) of the lecturer about (re)design

Read the blog by Marcel Vreeswijk

The video about this experience:

C) Other comments
Use of the tablet in combination of digital voting turned out very effective.

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See also