Tag Archives: PowerPoint

Essentials of Online Course Design

Book Review: “Essentials of Online Course Design”

Essentials of Online Course DesignThe book “Essentials of Online Course Design” from Majorie Vai and Kristen Sosulski is one I have heard about from a few people recently, and one I felt would be worth reading, and at a reasonable £22 from Routledge it’s a fair investment … not to mention the accompanying companion website.

The book is described as a “fresh, thoughtfully designed, step-by-step approach to online course development.” The core of the book is a set of standards that are based on ‘best’ practices (I prefer the term ‘good practice’ as ‘best practice’ implies there is no room for improvement) in the field of online learning and teaching. “Pedagogical, organizational and visual design principles are presented and modeled throughout the book and users will quickly learn from the guide’s hands-on approach. The course design process begins with the elements of a classroom syllabus which, after a series of guided steps, easily evolve into an online course outline” (this last bit was taken from the promotional text).

It is well structured with chapters organised in a nice ‘progressive’ way enabling you to build on previous concepts and content (not to mention contexts), with chapters like:

  • Engaging the Online Learner
  • Activities and Tools: Working Collaboratively and Independently
  • Assessment & Feedback
  • Building the course Foundation: Outcomes, Syllabus, and Course Outline
  • Creating the Course Structure: Online Lessons

The authors are at pains with this book to describe what works in an online learning and teaching environment without using the same tired, complicated, and often dense formats, and they have successfully simplified the processes required when applying a ‘standards-based’ approach enabling you to think more clearly on the “challenging task of rethinking your content for online study”. I know from experience that the recording of a face-to-face lecture does not work for online students: they just won’t sit for 45+ minutes to watch or listen to it. However, if you break down the recordings to an optimum 10-15 minute chunk they’re more manageable and digestible, therefore it should be recorded in this way and properly structured in the first place, with the online student in mind (the recordings are still valuable and applicable to campus-based students as well).

The companion website is also a valuable resource in its own right, but with the book targeting what and when you should use it the examples and references it contains should help you with the initial course build as well as being a good reference guide for course review and redesign.

Essentials of Online Course Design

So, what have I got from the book, either as something new or some existing knowledge or ideas reaffirmed?

  • Course design: careful consideration is needed when developing a course from scratch, especially to the structure you use and the technologies you implement – each element will need an introduction and explanation according to your target audience/student. If you think your student audience is likely to need more hand-holding when dealing with new technologies then get the appropriate support and/or resources in pace for them before they realise they need it.
  • Multimedia: images, video, and audio presentation/narration can improve the ‘clarity’ of presentation and understanding and can, where used appropriately, enhance the learning. Where they are used badly it can be an unwanted distraction, so use wisely.
  • Context – often overlooked in course design is the simple step of introducing yourself to your students. It’s not just about “this is me and this is how you can get in contact’, it’s also about giving the students the background as to why you are qualified to be leading them in this course/subject area. Tell them about your professional self, your research, your publications, what qualifications you bring to the subject speciality … only those that are relevant to the topic (not your full CV, they’re not that interested!).
  • Sign-post it and Use it – whatever you design, make sure you sign-post it, explain why you’re doing it, and use it yourself. If you have a discursive activity explain the ‘why’ as well as the ‘how’ and be the first person to post – introduce your expectations. Don’t forget to close the discussion as well, bringing the different strands of the activity into your conclusion and highlight concepts and individual contributions, not necessarily as good/bad examples, but just posts that led the discussion in certain directions.
  • Consistency – use the same font, font size, colours, etc., as well as the same type of headings in different places – if you swap and change throughout the course you’ll confuse and disorientate your students. You also need to consider the consistency of the jargon and style of your words, find your style and stick to it, it’ll be easier for the student to read.
  • Structure – what works in your classroom does not translate directly to the online world. Online resources for learning does not mean a ‘document repository’ of PDF and PPT files. If this is what you have and insist on using then at least provide a meaningful introduction to the file, what it contains/what it’s about, why the student needs it, and an activity for the student to engage in a a result of reading the file.
  • Orientation – thankfully this book does include orientation. Too many students are dumped in at the deep end with their online course with little explanation as to what or why they’re doing it (other than to ‘learn’ and ‘pass’) and hardly ever have the ‘intended learning outcome’ (ILO as I know it) explained. Include and explain the outcome and syllabus in relation to the assessment and any related knowledge needed for subsequent courses.
  • Learning Outcome – ever needed to write a learning outcome for your course and struggled? There’s an appendix to the book that covers this, and is a really useful guide including outcome vs. objective, rationale, and writing the outcome.

I know I can’t include all the best bits of the book, I’d have to reproduce a vast quantity of the book to do that, but I hope I’ve given you an idea why I like it and will be using it for reference in the future.

Have you read this book, do you agree with me and/or the authors? Please leave a comment below and join in the discussion.

“Tips in the Team Room”

So, you want to get your information to your team or the wider Institution staff? You know emails get deleted and posters in corridors get ignored – so what do you do? How about producing some snappy posters and putting them in department social areas and ‘tea rooms’, each poster covers a handy ‘tip’ of the application (Office 2010 or Windows 7). Here is how Uni of Leciester (@uolits) is handling it:

Prezi

PowerPoint and Prezi

If you’re a PowerPoint user, whatever level, and have thought about using Prezi but have been unsure of making the switch, then those lovely folks at Prezi have made it easier for you to get started – why not import your existing PowerPoint slides into Prezi and spice them up?

The video below shows how to do this as well as including some handy tips on what you can then do with the slides/frames to make it less of a ‘click next’ presentation and include some movement and interesting perspective.

Go on, give it a try. I will if you will? Why not use the comment feature below to leave a link to the Prezi you just created?

Thanks to James Clay and Bex Ferriday for sharing the video.

Building Educational Confidence and Affinity Through Online Induction Activities

Poster: Building Educational Confidence and Affinity Through Online Induction Activities

Today I am presenting the following poster at the Bournemouth University Enhancing Education 2011 Conference “Excellent education: the heart of the student experience” with two colleagues from the Business School, and wanted to share our work.

The poster, titled “Building Educational Confidence and Affinity Through Online Induction Activities” builds on previous work by the team to introduce and encourage our online an distant learners to engage with their studies, with us, and with each other.

The poster;

“… demonstrates the development and support taken throughout a week-long online Induction for geographically-disparate Business School students studying the fully-online BA (Hons) International Business & Management degree.

“From application through to enrolment and becoming an online student our students are likely to experience many emotions over this period. We recognise the different key foundation areas required to strengthen personal confidence and determination as an individual remote student. The intention is to help students overcome their initial personal apprehension by building intrinsic trust in the capabilities of the Business School from all standpoints including technical, educational and pastoral.

“By the end of this induction week students have the opportunity to formulate a clear picture of the environment in which they will be learning, establish an initial impression of degree level study, recognise the levels of support available to them, and begin to identify their own personal resolve and how to make this work for them whilst studying from a remote location.

“Through the induction programme we firmly believe that building strong roots empowers students to maximise their potential during the full course of their study.”

You can view and download the poster, in full, from SlideShare: Building Educational Confidence and Affinity Through Online Induction Activities.

If you are going to quote or cite this in any work please use the following details (in the style of Harvard Referencing):

Hopkins, D., Wincott, M. and Hutchings, L., 2011. Building educational confidence and affinity through Online Induction Activities. In: Bournemouth University Education Enhancement Conference 2011, 4 May 2011, Bournemouth University, Poole, England. Available from: http://eprints.bournemouth.ac.uk/17715/

AutoTweet notes from your presentation, while you present #autotweet #backchannel

Twitter is becoming an important tool for backchannel chat and information exchange in conferences, exhibitions, and classroom activities where perhaps email and/or discussion forums were used before. Twitter has also become a very useful way for those unable to attend to keep up with speeches, presentations and conversations that surround the ‘event’, and I have virtually ‘attended’ a few conferences this year already without having to book tickets or take time off work. It is not the same as being there, but it is still extremely useful.

Using a tool that can send a tweet from your presentation isn’t only useful for those unable to attend your session, it is also a good way for you to send notes into the backchannel for attendees information. I have started planning my next delivery of the Social Media & how (students) can survive online presentation to include sending tweets to the different examples I show as well as the YouTube videos and any other background information that could benefit the students in their follow-up activity (reflective blogging).

So, if you’re interested in this too, you’ll need the AutoTweet tool, which is free and easy to download from here:

You don’t have to install any other of the SAP 2.0 tools to make this work, but they’re worth a look for other aspects of including Twitter in presentations.

You will also need an account with a service like www.supertweet.net to enable the tweets to be sent due to the ‘API Proxy Account’, or something – anyway, you’ll need it. You can always revoke the application access from Twitter settings afterwards if you want.

AutoTweet will run as an ‘add-in’ in PowerPoint, which so far I have had to re-configure each time I open it to use (which makes testing the presentation a pain) but at least one option is to disable auto-tweeting until I’m ready to publish and tweet. One option available is that you can also display when a tweet has been sent (the bottom check-box in the settings image below) but I have found this slightly disruptive to the presentation but I know from colleagues that the students like it as it gives them an indication that content has been made available in the backchannel:

AutoTweet - set up the PowerPoint 'Add-in'

Now all you do is enter the hashtag in the box, as above, that you want to use and the tool will add this to the end of any text you specify to tweet from the slides.

To set the tweet content you just add the text and links (or even another hashtag) between the [twitter] [/twitter] code that you place in the slide ‘notes’ section, like this:

AutoTweet - setting up your PowerPoint slides (click to enlarge)

with the above example coming out like this:

While it takes only minutes to set up it does take longer to plan the tweets for the slides and get the shortened URLs ready but it is worth it.

I’m looking forward to testing this with the students again in a couple of weeks, I’ll let you know how it goes – via Twitter of course (@hopkinsdavid)

Facebook

Presentation: Social Media & how (students) can survive online

I’ve been lucky enough so far this term to be involved with two sets of students, both under-graduate first years (one unit called ‘Professional Studies’ even), and with both sets I have been surprised and slightly worried about the level of understanding they have about their use of Social Media, and how the little things can make a difference.

What surprised me, from a couple of informal questions to a few vocal and enthusiastic Facebook users, is that they have never considered what is viewable online, their ‘digital foot print’.

So, I asked around about what we do for the students to alert them to the risks, and how this could potentially affect their future employment prospects. I had some good answers but the one that made me groan was simply “why don’t you talk to them about it?” Me and my big mouth!


Social Media & Networks: How to survive online (or “your [next] employer is watching you”).
View more presentations from David Hopkins.

Update, 17 November 2010: I’ve been researching the United Airlines ‘breaks guitars’ example I use in the presentation above and have found some interesting figures. Not only has the original YouTube video been viewed/accessed over 9.5 million times since it was loaded last year, but it is reportedly the cause of a 10% drop in share price for United airlines, costing shareholders a whopping $180 million!

I took the class list (190+ students) and randomly searched for 10 students. I found 6 of them in Facebook easily and the other 4 had names that matched to 300+ other Facebook users, so I didn’t search for them. I used my personal Facebook account, which is not connected to my work or work colleagues in any way. This is important as I wanted to be sure there was no way I could have access through a friend of mine or theirs … this is the kind of set-up a future employer would have when searching.

What I found reaffirmed my belief that they don’t understand what they do, or how the privacy settings worked. I can say that all users had photos they’d uploaded that depicted some very good nights out, drunken behaviour, in one case smoking possibly dubious material, lots of holiday and beach pictures, and also photos they’d been tagged in by friends, so content they had had nothing to do with, but it appeared on their profile!

Naturally when I present this I can’t show them the exact photos or say who I searched (I do not have the list of names saved anywhere!) but I hope this will at least raise the awareness of their online activity and, if nothing else, these students think about their use of Social Media, their privacy settings, as well as the kind of people they befriend online.

It is also very difficult to talk about Social Media or Social Networks without concentrating on Facebook; it seems that’s all they’re interested in, and the majority of news stories I researched all concentrated on it too.

Have you got, or had, a Social Media (horror) story or have you taken a similar approach with your students? Please leave all comments below.

Preserving your carefully designed presentation

There you are, you’ve finished creating the masterpiece that is your PowerPoint presentation, saved it to the hard-drive, network and USB pen-drive, go to bed safe in the knowledge you’ll blow the audience away tomorrow with your superb presentation.

You wake the next morning, check the cat hasn’t eaten the pen-driver (or worse) and leave for the presentation. You get there a little late (train, bus, traffic, etc) and a little flustered – the time you were going to use to run through the presentation on someone else’s equipment is now no longer available … and you’re on.

Oops! This is where you realise that the font you used, on your own machine, is not standard and therefore available on the one being used to present from. Your slides and text are all wonky as the replacement font resembles

We’ve all been here (or will be soon), so what can you do to prevent this? A little known adaption in PowerPoint means you can embed the font character in the presentation, so it at least presents in the manner you designed it in.

You can stop this happening by preserving, or embedding, the font in the presentation so;

  • it displays correctly on (almost) any machine
  • you can continue to edit it on another machine

The screencast below shows you how to do this, in PowerPoint2007.

Preserving or embedding fonts in PowerPoint 2007

For those who can’t see the above screecast from Jing, here are some basic instructions;

  • Click on the Microsoft Office button in the upper left hand corner of PowerPoint 2007 and choose “PowerPoint Options” at the bottom.
  • From the new window of options you see select the ‘Save’ link on the left.
  • Under the “Preserve fidelity when sharing this document” section, first choose your document, then check the box for “Embed fonts in the file” or “Embed only the characters used in the document”.

Now when you save the document, the fonts will be embedded for future use (and presentation).

Image Source

PowerPoint Templates and how to use them

Presentations can often be boring, uninteresting, unimaginative, dull [insert your own negative description based on the presentations you've wished you had missed here] but that is not always the fault of the speaker. In my experience it can be either;

  • the presenter/speaker,
  • the PowerPoint presentation,
  • the subject, or
  • my mood

In the odd the occasion it is sometimes all the above.

So, as a presenter myself, and ourselves, what can we do about it?

In the article ‘The right way to use the PowerPoint Templates‘ the author, Daniel McMillan, talks about five simple tips on how to improve your presentation by making use of the Template. These are;

  1. Know the theme of your PowerPoint presentation. It is easier for you to choose your PowerPoint templates when you know the topic or the purpose of the discussion. If it doesn’t have a theme then you have better chances of coming up with a more effective PowerPoint presentation with plain-coloured PowerPoint templates or those that are not too flashy or colourful.
  2. Download the template designs. PowerPoint comes bundled with a variety of templates. However, these are incomparable to the number that you can find online from a simple search – try www.templateswise.com for starters.
  3. PowerPoint templates should not cover the texts or images. The templates that you’re going to use should not be too bold or too light that texts and even images don’t appear clearly on the screen. Complement is the rule. If you’re using light-coloured texts, darker templates are advisable. The opposite is ideal if you have darker-coloured words. If you will be using a lot of images, such as during product launches, go for PowerPoint templates that are of lighter hues.
  4. Keep them uniform all throughout the presentation. You may be tempted to make use of different template designs all throughout the PowerPoint presentation. Don’t. It doesn’t just look too annoying to your audience, but it will also bring down your credibility. Consistency is always associated with professionalism. It will also save you a lot of time and effort.
  5. Use the format menu. Would you like to change the existing template design of your PowerPoint presentation? You  need to save the PowerPoint template that you want to use. Then, on the Format menu of your PowerPoint application, select Apply Design Template. Locate where you have placed the template design. The choose Apply. It will change not just one but all template designs that you are currently using.

Mind you, saying this is all well and good, but some of the best presentations I’ve seen don’t use a template at all. They do, however, stick to a format or style which is easily recognisable. I’ve added one or two of my favourites below for you, all on or about eLearning, Technology, or presentation-styles.


‘The Smartphone Economy’, RedMagma

You can clearly see the structure and template that RedMagma is using in the presentation above; it is clean, it is obvious, and it is well utilised throughout the 20 slides.


‘The Visual Presentation Era’, Mohamad Badr

While there is no clear ‘template’ in use by Mohamad you can see the style and structure he uses; font size and colour, position of text and annotations, the background images, etc.

QR Code: Bit.ly web address

QR Codes: In the Classroom

I’ve written previously about QR Codes, what they are, and how we might use them. I’ve met and chatted with Andy Ramsden of Bath University and seen how they have integrated them into the assignment and feedback process.

I saw two links this morning on Twitter that sparked my interest again, both from @psychemedia which has made me realise that I need to brain-dump my thoughts on how these wonderful little codes can be utilised in the classroom.

But first … I have found that there is something about the QR Code generation we ought to know about; this is

Using a QR Code Generator (like qrcode.kaywa.com) means you can have the code store either a short URL or your contact details as text. Be warned: the more data you ask it to store the larger the final QR Code will be.

Example: The BIT.LY address for my blog is http://bit.ly/9iO6xz. The QR Code for this is:


If I used the whole address of http://www.dontwasteyourtime.co.uk then I get this QR Code (ahh, it’s bigger!):

If I wanted to store my Bournemouth contact details (from my email signature) then it looks like this (click to enlarge … but ouch, that’s too big! Use your code reader to find out what it has stored):

So, you see, you have to be careful about, not only, what information you store, but how you generate the information BEFORE you convert it into a QR Code. I strongly recommend that, wherever possible you use limited amount of text/content when you generate your code. If you have access to your own webspace, blog, etc then create a page/post that will contain all the information you want to make available, then use a URL shortening service to generate the shortest possible link to use for the code (see first example above).

So, with that out of the way, I get on with my thoughts about using QR Codes.

How can we use them? They are an excellent way of directing students to content. Whether the content is a book in the Library, a YouTube video, a seminar room at a given time, it doesn’t matter. What matters is working out an appropriate use. So, where can we use them?

I know the limitations of these codes are highlighted if students don’t have smart phones, or a mobile device without a camera, but I’m not dealing with limitations here, I’ll cover that in another post.

Lecture Theatre and/or Presentation

  • Place the QR Code in a slide that links to a YouTube video you want the students to watch, but you don’t want them to take up your valuable time in your lecture by showing them there and then.
  • Generate QR Codes that refer to materials the students may want to explore, but you haven’t time to show them in the limited lecture/seminar times.
  • Place the QR Code in your slides that links to the information about the core text for the lecture, details of what it is and where in the Library it can be found (floor, section, shelf details, etc, or even link to eBook version if it’s available?).
  • Generate a QR Code that links to an online survey or question you want them to answer while they’re with you, and show them the results (like a CPS system?)
  • Put the QR Code at the end or your presentation for the students to scan as they exit the theatre, that links to an audio copy of the lecture, or to the activity you’ve asked them to do.

Books & Textbooks

  • As these wonderful codes are being used more and more, how about the publishers using them in their printed versions to link to publisher-generated, and user-generated, content? This opens up so much more content than a CD in the back cover could ever do! The following YouTube clip demonstrates how this is already being done.

Classroom

  • Not every classroom has posters and things stuck to the wall, but what if you and your students worked on a poster about, for example, the San Andreas fault line? Wouldn’t it be great to be able to include audio and visual content in the 2-dimensional presentation? While we wait for video paper to come of age and be affordable, the inclusion of a QR Code on the poster means the person viewing it can still access the video content without typing a long complicated link.
  • If you have a name-plate why not put a QR Code on it which links to your online profile page on the Institutions website? Why not get your business card printed with one it the back; you can then put so much more on it (contact details, publications, research, readings, RSS feed, etc).

Conferences

  • I originally found information on QR Codes last year when it was blogged about in relation to the codes being placed on conference badges and a useful way for people to collect and share contact details.

Assignments

  • As I’ve already mentioned, Andy Ramsden and his team at Bath University are leading the way in this field and application of QR Codes, and he recently tweeted that they’d catalogued 1384 assignments. Please read about his work as it is not only a good example of using this technology, it is also a beacon for all of us learn from about bringing the various different departments and interested parties together to develop the system and working practice to make it work.

(finally) Blogging

  • I found this plugin for WordPress recently that sits as a widget in the side-bar that auto-generates a QR Code for each individual page/post. So now you can use a QR Code to save a link as well as browser systems like Delicious.