Friday, March 30, 2012

Tips to Enhance PowerPoint Creations

PowerPoint remains a stable for augmenting presentations. However, a poor PowerPoint can detract from your overall presentation. We have all heard of by now the phrase "Death by PowerPoint." The problem is not the tool, but people's understandings of the features in the software. People tend to mimic what they see modeled. As long as people continue to see poorly designed PowerPoint presentations, the more the vicious cycle of boring, ineffectual presentations will continue.

On the other hand, I have seen several presentations with tips for making engaging PowerPoint slide shows to augment one's presentation. Although this one is not my favorite, it still makes some good points and offers helpful advice, including how to work with color schemes and where to find acceptable use images.

10 Tips for Making Beautiful Slideshow Presentations

View more presentations from Edahn Small

What ideas did you pick up from going through this slide show? How might you now be able to enhance your own presentations?

You might also want to check out Doodleslide's Advice on PowerPoint for additional points about creating and delivering effective presentations. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

80 Alternatives to YouTube

80 Alternatives to YouTube is an e-book, which its author, Med Kharbach, has made available for sharing. I will embed the ebook below, but you can also access it as Google Doc if you prefer to review the book in that way. After skimming through the book and options explored, let us know which of these alternatives you have used, which you want to explore, and which you think you might want to use in your teaching.

Use the forward > mark or the scroll bar to advance through the book. 
Use the magnifying icon to enlarge the image and text.

Google Forms

This is a sample of a Google Form. It is very rough, but it is to give you the gist of how to show others in the class how to access and use the form you created. You can also share the form with others by sending it to them using email. Their email is available in the class contact form.

Here is a link to the simple form I created.

I have also embedded the form into the blog, using the embed code that is available from the More Actions options in Google Docs.

By the way, I found an example of an excellent way in which one school is using Google Forms to get feedback from students about books they would like to see the school library stock as well as other information. Once the forms are created, they are embedded right into a wiki where students can submit their replies. Check out this blog post about the project:

Community Conversations Using Google Forms, Docs, and Wiki to Connect Outside of Your School

Image from:

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Education Kills Creativity!

In this TED Talk, Sir Kenneth Robinson speaks about creativity, education, and the future. Listen to what he has to say. Although he notes creativity in education is at all-time need, he questions if we are addressing this need.

Do you agree that education is killing creativity? How can education better inspire and nurture creativity?

Why Use SlideShare

I first began using SlideShare as a way to store PowerPoint presentations so I did not have to worry about where they were when I needed to do a presentation. That is, I did not have to store them on a portable drive (e.g., flash drive), carry around a laptop, or save them to a network drive. Instead, I could simply upload my presentations to SlideShare and access them from anywhere.

However, in the last few years, I have also discovered the beauty of using SlideShare as a social networking site. As the name implies, SlideShare is a place to share. Many users upload their presentations and grant rights to others to use these presentations. This feature can be a real time saver. When a user finds a presentation on SlideShare that he or she wants to use, the user simply needs to save it to "favorites" and can easily access it when the need arises. Using tags when saving to "favorites" can help when searching through the "favorites" to find a specific presentation. Type in a search word to find the presentation. On the other hand, if you don't have many presentations stored n as "favorites," just scroll through them looking at the titles and thumbnails.

This morning, I came across a link on Twitter for a SlideShare on Personal Learning Networks (PLN), a topic I am covering in the course Integrating Technology and Literacies in an attempt to build a spirit of educators as lifelong learners who can increase their PLN by accessing resources online. I decided to take a look at the presentation. I discovered the creator archived the presentation under Creative Commons Attribute for use as long as the creator is identified. Here, I embed the slide show for a variety of reasons. One is to demonstrate the ease with which a SlideShow can be embedded in a blog. Another is for viewers to review the very content in the presentations: ways in which one's PLN can be increased by using online social media. Another and third reason is to persuade viewers to make use of SlideShare if they are not already.

Creating a Personal Learning Network
 Presentation from from Corinne Weisgerber and Shannan Butler

Do you have a SlideShare account? Have you used the service? If you make PowerPoint presentations and lose track of where they are saved or don't want to be bothered storing them on a portable device, which can easily get lost or damaged, consider the convenience of SlideShare. Moreover, presentations saved on the site can be viewed from the site or downloaded to a specific computer to show on that computer during a presentation.

Once you become a regular user of SlideShare, you will not only find links that others share to presentations that you can access, but you will find presentations by browsing the site itself. If you like one presentation a person put up on SlideShare, you might find another one you like from this person by just browsing through the thumbnails of that person's presentations. You can also do a search with terms to find presentations. For instance, recently, I was looking to spice up an educational research course I am teaching. Although I could find a few excellent YouTubes, this site is blocked in the school where the course will be taught. Searching through SlideShare, I found some excellent alternatives.

Of course, finding relevant presentations on SlideShare not only is a timesaver because we don't have to create our own PowerPoints, but also it allow us to let another voice speak in our classrooms or for other audiences. Whereas our own PowerPoints can have a distinct look and feel, using someone's else can add variety.

Take some time to look through SlideShare perhaps on a topic you will be teaching soon. See what you find and check the creator's options for sharing. If you already use SlideShare, let us know what you think? Can you see how the site can open new possibilities and also contribute to your PLN? Would you consider putting your PowerPoint presentations on SlideShare?

Another similar site to check is AuthorStream, but if you need to begin somewhere, start with SlideShare, where you will find a host of ready-to-use presentations, such as the one I embedded above and other ones embedded in this blog. SlideShare can also help you with brainstorming for new presentations you want to create. By viewing others' work, you will get ideas.

Post your comments. What do you see as your potential use for SlideShare? After exploring for awhile, find a SlideShare to embed on in one of your own blog posts or to share with your students or others. Remember to give credit where credit is due and to check the sharing rights to use the presentation.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Best of the Web

Richard Byrne, the author of the Free Technology for Teachers blog, created this Google doc presentation for a conference. Skim through the slides to discover new resources.

What new sites or tools did you discover that you want to explore? Have you used any of the sites mentioned in the presentation? If you are not already following Byrne's blog in your Google Reader, you should consider doing so.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Not to Be Missed: What Makes VoiceThread Unique

VoiceThread has features that other online digital story sites are missing. It is a highly collaborate site that invites viewers to post text or audio comments alongside of images that the presenter has entered. In fact, the site can easily be used to enter images created by any and all students in a class or group. In that way, the site encourages collaborative authorship. However, the authorship extends further once the images are uploaded as any guest to a site with permission can edit the presentation and add text or auditory comments. Many have noted the best feature of VoiceThread is the ease of adding auditory comments, creating a soundtrack in effect.

What is a VoiceThread?  Check this introduction video.

Looking for samples of ways VoiceThread has been used in a variety of classrooms, K-12? This wiki, VoiceThread4Education is an excellent source. Samples are sorted by grade level.

VoiceThread is an excellent tool to promote the 4 C’s: Communication, Commenting, Creativity, and Collaboration. I am including a link to access from a wiki a Slide Show (use arrow keys to advance through the show) that outlines these four features and also includes  links to specific VoiceThreads that illustrate each concept.

Once you access the wiki, VoiceThread4Education, note the side links to access VoiceThreads by grade level and to meet other needs.

Here is a list and links to some of the model VoiceThreads you will find on the wiki. In addition, the links will take you to the teacher tips about the VoiceThread, and once there, you can scroll down the page, where you will find links to specific VoiceThreads. Once you open a VoiceThread, go through each screen, clicking on the audio and comment buttons, and then use the arrow key to continue to the next frame in the presentation. Be sure to have speakers on!

The listed VoiceThreads below are categorized by the feature they exemplify: commenting, collaboration, commenting, or creativity, though all VoiceThreads are likely to integrate all four features in some way. Check the wiki, VoiceThread4Education, often for additions, and if you create with your students a model VoiceThread, be sure to add it to the wiki.

Other Examples shared
Thank you to Colette Cassinelli for sharing this excellent information at the June 2011 International Society for Technology Education (ISTE) Conference.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

What's Your Lollipop Moment?

Check this TED Talk,"Leading with Lolliopops," by Drew Dudley.

What's your lollipop moment? How does this TED Talk talk to you? What does it mean to you? What does it say about being a leader? What about being a teacher?