Powerpoint and other slideshow-based forms of presentation can be useful. They certainly have a place in my teaching. But variation is the spice of life and certainly helps in terms of pupils being able to remember important information they may need for examinations, etc.
If you just want cool ways of jazzing up your exisiting Powerpoint, then you could try CoolIris or Rich Chart Live. If, however, you’d like a different way of presenting, keep reading!
In what follows I’d like to take you through three tools that should help liven up your presentations. They are:
The best way to describe Glogster is that it’s like an online, multimedia poster. It’s very easy to use and, as it can be made to display full-screen, making it an ideal presentational tool. You can add (hyperlinked) text as well as embedding images, video and audio. The added bonus is that it’s already online for your pupils to see when they get home! 🙂
An example of a very basic ‘glog’ is this one I created to show my pupils how it was done. They did a much better job – for example this one by Merrick S.
At the time of writing, Prezi is currently in ‘private beta mode’, meaning you have to request a login by signing up. In practice, it only takes a couple of days before you get your account.
Like Glogster, Prezi allows you to embed multimedia objects such as images and video (in the form of .flv files – try KissYouTube.com). Describing itself as ‘the zooming presentation editor’, Prezi is like a giant canvas upon which you focus in on various parts.
Prezi can be viewed, and collaborated upon, online – but each presentation can also be downloaded for use offline. Perfect if your network connection is less than 100% guaranteed! 🙂
Here’s a very straightforward Prezi I created on the League of Nations to show you the style.
Animoto is an easy video creation tool. It ‘feels’ your music and presents the images you upload to it in time with the beat. Animoto has recently become a lot more powerful in that you can now add text. It is therefore now useful as a story-telling tool, and especially as a ‘hook’ for pupils at the start of a lesson!
I created the above video last month to entice Year 9 to choose the new Vocational GCSE in History!
It’s easy to create a bad Powerpoint presentation. That’s because it’s easy to be fooled into thinking that because your audience is looking at something, they’re engaged with and by it. What is gained in clarity can be lost in repetition and boredom. Below are some ways to use Powerpoint more effectively and alternatives to spice up your content delivery.
First, though, here’s Don McMillan explaining some of the REALLY bad ways people use Powerpoint:
This text will be replaced
var so = new SWFObject(“http://www.edublogs.tv/flvplayer.swf”,”mpl”,”450″,”355″,”8″);so.addParam(“allowscriptaccess”,”always”);so.addParam(“allowfullscreen”,”true”);so.addVariable(“height”,”355″);so.addVariable(“width”,”450″);so.addVariable(“file”,”http://www.edublogs.tv/uploads/xvvgpn8zukcgkwgx.flv”);so.addVariable(“searchbar”,”false”);so.write(“player”);
5 quick tips if you MUST use Powerpoint…
Never use a font size smaller than 24pt. If you have a large classroom, you may need to go even bigger than this. Stand at the back and check!
Limit the number of words you have per slide. Don’t use them as an aid to remind you what to say. They should enhance what you are talking about, not repeat it! A great way is to limit yourself to 5 words and 5 bullet points. Alternatively, just use an image to represent your idea/concept/instruction.
Find graphics that represent things you do frequently in lessons (perhaps from clipart) and always use these when doing a similar activity. For example, a pen writing for when it’s time to start work or two people talking for discussion/group work. These help reinforce good habits and aid classroom management.
Use contrasting colours. The easiest way to do this is to choose an option from the ‘Slide Design’ menu. Otherwise, remind yourself of the colour wheel.
Limit the number of different slide transitions in a presentation. One or two is classy, lots of different ones looks unprofessional.
There are lots of different tools that do a similar job to Powerpoint. For example, Keynote on the Mac and OpenOffice.org Impress (all platforms). But you don’t want to simply replicate Powerpoint’s functionality, you want to move beyond it.
Method 1 – Online presentations
Creating presentations on, or uploading presentations to, the Internet can be extremely useful. Not only does it give you access to better visual effects than Powerpoint can offer, but it makes them readily available to your students outside the lesson. The following three slides are taken from part of the very first lesson I had with Year 7 this academic year:
This is the same presentation when I uploaded it to Google Docs and tinkered slightly:
And here it is in the wonderful SlideRocket after using some of its functionality:
Zoho Show is another option. All of these are completely free or have a free basic option. I’d recommend Google Docs if you’d like to collaborate (or students to collaborate) on presentations and SlideRocket for fancy effects. The latter has a desktop version, although you have to upgrade your account to a paid-for version to be able to download it. Of course, if you just want to make your presentations available online, you could use SlideShare…
Add a short video clip to your presentation. Find it on YouTube, or another video-sharing site. Download and convert it (in this case to MOV or WMV format) via Zamzar.com. There’s an elearnr guide on how to do this here. 🙂
Ask yourself, “do I really need to use a Powerpoint-style format?”. If the answer is “perhaps not!” then check out some of these suggestions:
Glogster – we’ve already been through glogs on elearnr. They are a great, visual way to present as you can embed videos, audio and images quickly and easily.
Mindmap – why not demonstrate good practice and create a mindmap to present ideas? Students can learn organizational skills from this, and there are a number of collaborative mindmapping sites, including MindMeister, bubbl.us, Mindomo and Mind42.
Wiki – a wiki is a collaborative website. It’s also a great place to embed content from other websites and therefore a useful presentational tool. Your audience (i.e. students or other teachers) can also add their ideas and thoughts to it at a later date – if you want them to! I like Wikispaces, but it doesn’t seem to play nicely with our school network. I’d recommend, therefore, Google Sites, Wetpaint and PBwiki. I use Google Sites to run learning.mrbelshaw.co.uk 🙂
Keep up-to-date with new ways and ideas for presenting ideas, concepts and content. The following are websites that can help:
I usually dislike it when people blog about conferences and meetings they’ve been to. I mean, as if I care if you sat around a table with some suits and drank coffee at ridiculously short intervals! I feel I need to preface the following, therefore, by saying that there’s some great links I’d like to share.
I was invited by Dan Sutch to another Futurelab-hosted event, this time on behalf of Channel 4 (a UK independent broadcasting company) to, of all places, Bristol Zoo! The quotation that comprises the title of this post came during the course of the day from a fellow teacher attending the event by the name of Alice Bigge. A quick Google search would seem to indicate it originated with Truman Capote. It’s a great one that, no doubt, will make its way onto my classroom wall. It kind of sums up my pragmatic educational philosophy. :-p
The purpose of the day was to review from a formal learning perspective some informal learning resources produced by Channel 4. I’ll summarise each briefly and what I thought of them…
I thought The Insiders was a great idea. As careers advice given by schools has recently been slated by Ofsted, something like this website is just what’s needed. At present, there’s six occupations that have been dramatised and put online via videos and blogs on MySpace. These were taken and adapted (with permission) from people’s real blogs. A story about each character unfolds and the ups and downs of that career/job are highlighted in an engaging way. The six that were chosen – actress, doctor, fashion assistant, musician, policeman, teacher – are those that came top in a recent survey of UK teens as to what they want to do when they leave full-time education. I was surprised to see teacher in there!
I’ll definitely be recommending this to the Citizenship/PSHE co-ordinator at our school. In fact, I may even follow one or more of the stories with my Year 9 form group. 😀
I have to say that I was less impressed with Slabovia.tv. This was the one that our group had to explain to the other groups, and we did so (at my suggestion) via a glog:
Whilst it deals with more than sex education, I do feel that the conceit created to deliver the message wasn’t the right path to go down. As other teachers noted, there may be issues relating to eastern european migrants in UK schools. Additionally, it’s probably got a limited audience to which it would appeal – the type of audience that wouldn’t want to be seen on anything a teacher pointed out in a lesson. I think this one is best kept in the ‘informal learning’ space.
Year Dot follows a fly-on-the-wall documentary format that cuts across both linear television and online. 15-20 teenagers over the course of a year will try to gather support from around the internet, through social networking and video-sharing services, to reach a personal goal. The story of each teenager will be told as part of two series to be aired on Channel 4 in the autumn.
There’s a diverse range of goals that these teenagers want to achieve. One of the most moving was the teenager with Asperger’s Syndrome who, after receiving lots and lots of support from his school and local community, was purposely moving far away from home to go to university. His emotional journey, heightened by his condition, would really hit home with students with whom you shared his video journey.
The goal he had set himself was to come off Prozac and to manage to live independently. Other teenagers are trying to set up a dance company, get selected for Arsenal Ladies‘ First Team, or become one of England’s youngest ever Members of Parliament. Year Dot is another resource I’ll be recommending to the Citizenship/PSHE co-ordinator at my school. 🙂
Finally, Battlefront was the one about which I really couldn’t make up my mind. It has the potential to be revolutionary, but I’m afraid it might have life-changing experiences for the 19 currently involved and few others. The idea is that 19 – eventually 20 – young campaigners around England try to get out there and do something to make things better. For example, there’s a girl battling against the ‘Size Zero’ culture, someone campaigning against free newspapers ‘costing the earth’, and one trying to bring back free university education for all.
As I say, it’s got high-minded ambitions, but I’m not sure. Apparently, you can get in touch with Channel 4 to get any of the Battlefront campaigners to come into your school to talk to your students. If I can be of any help pointing people in the right direction for this, just ask!
I found it at once heartening and extremely disappointing to hear that all the other teachers in the room had major issues to do with Internet filtering. The content that Channel 4 has spent money on – most of which is excellent – resides in places that teenagers already visit: MySpace, YouTube, etc. In other words, all the places blocked by school filtering systems. 🙁
There’s got to be a debate, and soon, about filtering in schools. It’s my belief that it’s holding back innovation and good practice in education. The sooner that something is done about it, the better.
I love going to Futurelab events as they are always very positive experiences. I was able to show fellow teachers about various things that they were having problems with, such as downloading YouTube videos. All in all, I found the day to be a very worthwhile use of my time, that I added to a debate, and that I met like-minded people with a real enthusiasm to move things forward. I might add that, as with many Futurelab events, the day’s ideas were represented pictorially by Dave Clark, who kindly let me use the image of the Slabovian general our group commissioned him to draw at the top of this blog post. 😀