August 31, 2015

This Is Why Universities Should Embrace Presentation Technology

As a postgraduate student, I have sat through more than my fair share of lectures. A common occurrence in these classes is that after the first few months, when the novelty of attending university has all but worn off, many students find themselves struggling to maintain focus. This is the exact moment when a teacher is likely to whip out audio-visual presentations to break the monotony.

Presentations are a fun way to engage students’ attention, but they are not without their fair share of problems. I often find myself so engrossed in the slideshow that I forget to make any notes altogether. And even when I do remember, it becomes difficult to keep up with the slides, pay attention to the professor’s explanation, and jot down my own inferences all at once. Sometimes, I may even want to make additional notes only to realize that the lecturer has already moved on to the next slide, in which case I can do either of two things: 

(I) Request them to go back to the last slide, thereby slowing down - or possibly even ruining - the flow of the entire presentation, or 

(II) Chicken out and resign myself to the idea of an imperfect education. 

Neither scenario is particularly gratifying to any educator, who, after having possibly slaved for hours to perfect a presentation, is baffled by its inefficacy when faced with the less-than-ideal results of a class assessment.

So does this mean universities should scrap presentations from the lesson plan? Having spoken to classmates and students across campus, I can safely say that nobody want to see them go. With the right tweaks, slideshows can become an engaging tool of communication as well as a powerful revision strategy for students long after the class is over. Here are a few ways to achieve this:

1.      Make Presentations More Accessible

I cannot stress this enough: Let your students know how and where they can view your presentation later. Chances are, the actual slideshows used to deliver a lecture are more helpful than any personal notes scribbled during the presentation. The traditional way to do this is to send the presentation as a mass e-mail to the entire class afterwards. However, in my personal experience, a hastily compiled list of e-mails is bound to miss a few people, and most students won’t even realize they didn’t make it to the mailing list until it’s too late. A fail-proof alternative is to upload the slides on Glisser, and give their unique URL to students before a lecture. This gives them the option to type in their own e-mail address at the end of the presentation and have the slides immediately sent to their inbox, leaving them with one less thing to worry about while preparing for exams.

2.      Enable Coordination between Notes and Slides

Since slideshows usually display only the main bullet points and complementary diagrams, students often want to write down additional information relayed by the speaker. However, it is often confusing to later identify which section of the notes corresponds to which slide. Many attempt to avoid this by jotting down the number of the respective slide in their notes, but the chances of losing track during a particularly difficult class are monumental. The same goes for trying to take notes on labeled diagrams featured in the slide, as it involves having to draw the diagram in question before repeating the aforementioned steps.  Glisser makes life easier for students by letting them write notes electronically on the slides themselves, so they can concentrate on the presentation instead.

3.      Determine and Answer the Most Important Queries

Given that university lectures are usually attended by an average of fifty to sixty people, it is next to impossible to address everyone’s questions about a presentation. Ideally, a professor ought to answer the most popular questions across the student base, but there is no way to predetermine them before a presentation. Glisser lets students post their queries and even vote for those raised by classmates during an ongoing presentation, then draws up a list according to rankings at the end. Such a comprehensive list will allow professors to clear at least the most common doubts in the event they run out of time before covering all of them.

4.      Collect Instant Feedback

Most universities  ask for feedback only at the end of a programme. This offers little incentive for students to make time for submitting comments since they will not personally benefit from them. Besides, any suggestions provided after a lapse in time is likely to be vague and generic, which makes it difficult to implement them. The easiest way to avoid this would be to acquire immediate feedback on class presentations, but the limited time frame of individual lectures rarely allows for this. Students are also understandably reluctant to write out elaborate comments at the end of a long class. Avoid this by adding multiple choice questions to your Glisser presentation, so people can register their opinion in a matter of seconds. For the particularly lazy ones, Glisser also has the option to simply press like on the slides they enjoyed. Teachers in turn will receive a copy of the data acquired to find out exactly what worked for the students, and make changes accordingly for subsequent presentations.

That’s not all, either! The most convenient feature of Glisser is that no prior downloads are necessary to access files. Students can simply Copy + Paste the URL into their laptop or phone browser for a truly immersive class experience. If you would like to try Glisser for yourself, click here to visit their official website.

May 11, 2015


It comes and goes, this insidious sting.
I may not feel it for days, but may for a century.
Life crumpling under unyielding footsteps
And the distilled craving for happy memories.
Stay with me.
Stay here till the sun bleeds into the sky,
Natural hemorrhage masquerading as accidental beauty.
This is the pain that does not wring out tears —
Release would be too fucking easy.

April 23, 2015

Fitness Fiend.

Okra, flaxseed, neem and kale -

New concoctions straight from hell,

Tame the urge to spill your meal

All over your growing dress.

Touch your feet, and then some more

Heavy breathing, pounding chest,

Sweat that cloaks your natural scent -

Why insist on such madness?

Down the cobbled streets you go,

Aching joints and inflamed soles,

One more mile, or maybe two

Can melt that roll of fat on you.

No more crispy sugar treats

Lock them up where arms can’t reach,

Ditch the carbs and fizzy drinks

Gorge on fresh-plucked leaves instead!

Bench-press twice a day, you fool,

Wield that dumb bell like a tool

Ankle sprain and muscle sore

Must add up to a healthy core.

Something else you want to try?

Join a class and bring your mate -

Crunches, yoga, all to die

At the very slowest rate.

February 20, 2015

The End.

When I wake up in the middle of the night
Screaming at shadows, dripping with sweat,
I don’t reach out for the lights.
I reach for you.
When I’m counting down the hours until break,
Cursing my job and everything under the sun,
Thinking of lunch doesn’t make me smile,
You do.

And when we lie down, laughing, in the wet grass
So we can close our eyes and wish upon a star,
I’m still smiling at you,
Knowing that my wish came true.

You must think I’m pathetic.
God knows I do.
If my teenage self could see me now,
Groveling in dust
Like the flea-infested dog you quickly walk past
At the butcher’s, he’d want to kill himself too.

But this is what you do to me.
You with your blazing eyes and caustic tongue,
The sly, half-smile that gets me every time,
You with your beach-tanned boys and pinstriped men,
The hushed phone calls and playful winks -
Why won’t you smile anymore?
Is it the scars on my shoulder, honey?

Where you put out your cigarettes, one sizzling dot at a time,
Painted purple over days?

Love found me in a nightmare once -
Whimpering, shaking, weeping blood,
Love held me in her quicksand arms
And she looked just a little like you.

February 18, 2015

Not Love.

You think you love me
When all you really love
Is how my smile reminds you
Of the mother you never had.
Her gap-toothed smile
Watching from the picture frames
In your father’s house,
Its dusty hallway empty
Like his heart.

It’s easy to fall in love
With someone who feels like home –
Their breath on your skin
Like the storm against your window.
The light in their eyes
Like fireflies in the dark.
Their voice is music
Because it's not yours.
The blisters on their hands
Are cotton against your palm.

Tell me how you love me
On days you don't love yourself?

January 21, 2015

Growing Up.

Is that your plan
Doodled in the margins of a notebook
In fifth period, English class?
Lofty goals and sun-kissed dreams
Bursting through
The fading ink of your sloppy scrawl.
You feel invincible,
Your life a jigsaw puzzle,
Waiting to be made whole
On a lazy Sunday afternoon.

I know what you’re thinking.
I can read it in the curve
Of your mouth
As you sneak a glance
While passing a mirror.
I bet it’s nice to feel so brave,
To watch the world
Quiver at your touch.
Fate becomes your little pet,
Nuzzling into the palm of your hand.

But pets die, and mirrors break
Old notebooks get left behind
Sunday noons are ruined by work,
And jigsaw pieces disappear.

January 13, 2015

Giving In.

When you move away,
When you move away from home for the first time,
It feels a little like learning to swim.
The adrenaline kicks in, you find yourself
On top of the world for a while
But mostly it’s just drowning.
Sometimes the days go by in a blur
Of friendly faces and one drink too many.
Always a drink too many.

It creeps in on you when you least expect it -
That longing for home you thought you’d banished
Three margaritas ago.
And when you’re hunched up before your computer,
Drowning in music the screams that will not come,
You finally give up struggling.
The waters swallow you whole
And there’s not a damn thing you can do.

November 30, 2014

Writer's Block.

I hate how the light bounces off
This sparse white sheet
Which thirsts for words
That may never come.
How funny would it be
If it turned around
And slapped me in the face
For wasting its time with false promises?
Time. There’s that dreaded word again
Creeping up my skin
Like an insidious snake
Preparing to strike
Me into senselessness.
Everything affronts my nerves tonight –
The whir of the fan,
The shadows it casts
On its vigil around my battered ceiling;
The grunts down the hallway
As a sweaty stranger preys
On daddy’s little princess;
The unruly strands of spray-dyed hair
That sweep across my brow,
Stealing my vision.
Where is the madness promised to us?
That little spark to reanimate
The rotting remains of intellect?
I will trade my soul
For a few sorry rhymes,
Spill blood and sweat
As sacrifice
To conjure words
From emptiness.

They tell me to settle down,
Find a nice young boy
And ruin his life;
Hang the apron-noose
Around my neck
And slip
Into a life
Of picket-fenced perfection.
They’re joking, of course
But on nights like this
Of empty bottles and double vision
I almost believe them.
If my mother should see me now
She’d tilt her head and sing
Into this abyss of shattered dreams
That old refrain –
“I told you so.”
The words will haunt me
Till I die,
Echoing into
The afterlife.

Yet something in me still persists,
For ego is a feral beast
And only if my pen would write,
Some lofty tale I’d bring to life –
A legend whispered long ago
Of dragon-slaying or of woe,
A pretty damsel in distress
Whose charming knight is put to test,
A wily temptress in disguise
Brewing potions for a price.
And just when I have stalled my fears,
The magic kingdom disappears,
My words dry up,
My prose runs thin
And old foe silence
Creeps back in.

If you should see me by myself
On nights like these,
Please walk away.
This cross is mine to bear alone;
I risked too much, I should’ve known
That fickle fancy’s not my friend.
But still I hold this idle pen,
Praying for a miracle,
To scribble through
Life’s sorry test,
Not knowing that
My muse is dead.