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Presenting lectures using Mathcad


Presenting lectures using Mathcad

I was thinking (which prompts my friends to say.."Oh no!  We're in for it now!), "what are the options for live (not video) presentations of technical subjects using Mathcad?"  The options below are divided into options for the presenter and for the class.  For clarification, the subject being presented is not how to use Mathcad, but how to solve a major problem.  The presentation might be a lecture in an engineering course at the university level, or an in-house short course in industry.  Because of the problem complexity, the worksheet must be prepared in advance, not created during the lecture.  This is different from the Mathcad training videos on this site where only a single feature of Mathcad might be demonstrated.

Presenter Options

  1. The Mathcad worksheet is projected onto a screen for the class and the lecturer scrolls through it as he explains the worksheet.  By using the actual worksheet, he can make simple changes in some of the parameters and show their effect on the results.
  2. The worksheet is converted to a pdf document and projected as in 1.  Similar to 1 without the interactive nature.
  3. Break down the material into slides for Powerpoint.
  4. Present from a OneNote view of the worksheet.

Option 1 is probably the most frequently used because of the interaction capability.  Option 3 is "Old School".  Option 4 is like Option 2 with an added layer of complexity due to the OneNote environment.

A Proposed Enhancement for Mathcad

The scroll method works well at keeping the class focused on the material being discussed.  However, the lecturer may want to know what is coming next before he scrolls down.  Thus, it would be nice if Mathcad has a shade like the Smartboard that can be pulled down to reveal material to the class.  In addition, Mathcad would need two views of the worksheet, a presenter view and a class view.  The presenter view would not show the shade, only the position of the shade cursor so the presenter can grab it and lower the shade to the next equation.  The class view would show the opaque shade covering a portion of the worksheet.  This method would also allow the material being discussed to be placed higher on the screen instead of always on the bottom.

Class Options when the Presenter is using Mathcad, not pdf or OneNote

  1. Notes taken by students using their blank note paper or computer word or note program.
  2. Notes taken by students on paper copies of the worksheet provided by the presenter.
  3. Notes input into their own copy of the Mathcad worksheet, obtained probably via Wi-Fi to the class server.
  4. Notes input into a OneNote copy of the Mathcad worksheet, also obtained via their network.  If they are using a tablet notebook, they may handwrite these notes over the worksheet.  Otherwise, they type the notes.  See PTC's Chris Hartmann demo of the OneNote method.  This option also allows audio recording of the lecture.  I haven't recorded so I don't know how well this works.
  5. Give the students the option of 3 or 4.  By providing the Mathcad worksheet on the network, the student can then choose to print it to OneNote if he prefers.  Otherwise he can just take notes in the Mathcad document.

Pros and Cons of each of the Class Options

  1. This option requires least (i.e. no) effort by the lecturer regarding the class note taking.  From the student standpoint, this option is also easy, but the notes are not directly in sync with the worksheet.
  2. This option requires a lot of paper.
  3. This option is probably the best if the students are meant to have the Mathcad file.  Notes are taken in the file where needed.  Portions of the worksheet that are proprietary can be locked with a password.
  4. This option is good if the worksheet is not to be delivered to the class.  The proprietary material in the worksheet may be hidden as in 3, but the hidden areas don't need to be locked since the worksheet is not available.  The student needs to know how to use OneNote. This option is good for collecting a series of classes and organizing them into a single notebook.  Chris showed how to convert the picture from Mathcad into a background.  If this is desired, then the process has to be repeated for each page of the note, not just the first page.  Another drawback of making the pictures into a background is that the student can't add space for more notes because the background is fixed.  I've experimented, and the conversion to the background is not needed in order to add notes as an overlay.
  5. For most cases, this may be the best option.  However, the method only works when the student is receiving the Mathcad worksheet.  If only a pdf file is provided, only options 1,2,4 are possible.

My Choice

I will continue to present from the Mathcad worksheet using the scroll option (Presenter Option 1) and hide areas where needed.  For the student, if the networking (Wi-Fi) is available, I will choose the Class Option 3/5, giving them the worksheet to make notations in as I lecture.  Some may decide to just listen and watch the projection screen and make notes on paper (Class Option 1).  I think the OneNote option adds too much "interference" in the class experience.  For those that like the organizational structure of OneNote, they may disagree.  By giving the student the option to create the OneNote themselves, then they can put it into their own OneNote structure.

Are there other options? (Yes, Livescribe pencasts are neat, but how do you use them with Mathcad?)

What do you prefer? Please distinguish between Presenter and Class options in your answer.

Do you like the shade option with two views?


I just remembered that a worksheet window can be sized within the Mathcad window separately.  This allows the bottom of the window to be moved up the screen.  So when scrolling, the class will be looking at the middle of the screen, a more convenient location than the bottom.

No one wants to answer the questions?

Good afternoon Harvey,

I haven't used MathCAD for presentation of technical subjects. However, I would like to answer your questions:

Presenter: Instead of the scroll I would prefer "to jump" to the key information. I mean, just show the important information. I believe this could be done by working with hyperlinks and areas. For me, this "jump" provides a better appearance (sometimes when you scroll you see fraction of the previous calcs/results, small part of the graphics, etc.).

Class Options: definitely the number 3. In this way you can decide what is public and what is private information, and if your students are interested by the topic, they can create their own worksheets, based on the information provided, the notes and all the things they want to add.

Again, I have never had the opportunity to use MathCAD to explain something but I think I would do it in this way.


Oscar J.


Thanks for your reply.  I think you are right about the jump method.  That would be preferred.  The links within a worksheet aren't available in Mathcad 15.  Are they available in Prime 2? 

Sorry, this ended in the wrong place and I don't know how to change it without deleting and starting over.



Please see the following link:

I think it's possible to use the same strategy for the presentation.


Oscar J.

Hi Oscar,

Thank you so much for the info on the region links.  I don't know how I didn't find that earlier.  I may have to edit my book and use this feature.