Follow up on PD: Powerpointless to powerful

Today, another group of learners joined us to talk about PowerPoint, it’s strengths and weaknesses in the classroom, and simple tips and tricks you can use to make your presentations much more visually appealing.

Just a quick tour of the Keynote application on your mac will tell you that, for most users, Keynote makes it much easier to generate presentations that are far more attractive than PowerPoint.

We started with Jill discussing how recent research on Learning and the Brain shows that PowerPoint really isn’t effective for conveying large blocks of text. Audiences find it very difficult to process heavily text based presentations, and you’ve likely seen a presentation that could serve as an example of “death by powerpoint.”

Instead, Jill empahsized that research shows slideshows are a visual medium, and good presenters take advantage of this to develop visual metaphors of the ideas they wish to convey. Doing this makes those ideas have much more stickiness, as she was able to demonstrate with a presentation she recently redesigned.

We then went through some tips and tricks with powerpoint, which include a very simple tool (instant alpha) that allows you to remove the background from images, and the hyperlinking tool which allow you to make any object a link (to another slide, to a web address, or even to an email). You can find explanations of these two tips and many more in the handout below:

Here is the direct link to the handout as well. Remember that in a pdf, clicking on a link will take you to that url in a browser.

After a quick overview of tips and tricks, everyone set out to work on a presentation on his/her own, and we closed out the session with people showing off many of the cool things they’d discovered—like how you can resize and rotate a picture simply by pinching and rotating two fingers on the trackpad.

Here is a link to the video. One word of warning about this video—you’ll see that we had a few users who had not had the chance to install keynote on their computer according to the directions sent out by IT, but we were able to get through it with a bit of flexibility. If you haven’t already done so, make a plan to re-install iWork on the next time you go to campus. You can find the directions at the bottom of Jill’s first What’s up in the Dock Post.

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About John Burk

The ramblings of a physics teacher.
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