Using the Master Slide within PowerPoint

One of the most useful things to learn within PowerPoint is about using the Master Slide. This is a way of formatting the entire presentation in one place rather than applying formatting on each individual slide. This will save you time, improve the quality of the presentation (as formatting will be consistent throughout) and will make the presentation much more accessible, as it then becomes very easy to change the colour scheme for a presentation if a learner requires it.

It is very easy to do, and these 2 short screencasts will show how to set up a basic master slide, and then how to format the header and footer options to include things like slide numbers.

To create a basic master slide

To then add a footer such as slide numbers

Advertisements

E-Guides sharing and sharpening Awards

The E-Guides programme was started in 2003, and initially worked with people working in the ACL sector before later expanding into other areas of post 16 education. In that time over 3000 E-Guides have been trained, who have then cascaded and supported colleagues within their organisations in the use of various forms of technology in learning. Unfortunately like many other national programmes this no longer runs, but many of the E-Guides are working away in their organisations trying to make a difference, often without formal recognition or time allocation, and often without due thanks.

I am pleased that NIACE is still trying to recognise the work of these people with an annual award – details of which can be found at http://www.niace.org.uk/current-work/the-e-guides-sharing-and-sharpening-award-2011

Even though the money for these programmes has dried up, and the current Government don’t seem to be recognising the importance or value of learning technology, it is important that the people who are enthusiastic about this area of work do continue to plug away at trying to make a difference and trying to make change happen.

Creating a ‘Gap fill’ activity within Microsoft Word 2007

Gap fill activities created within Word are relatively low level interactivities, in that they don’t give the learner feedback, and are really only good for lower order thinking skills, however they are a very simple way of converting an existing ‘static’ word document into something with an element of student engagement. These video clips have been produced using Microsoft Word 2007 – the principles are similar in other versions of Microsoft Office, but the way of doing this is actually different.

This first video shows what the output will look like.

The second video will show how we create this effect in Microsoft 2007. The techniques may be slightly different in other versions of Word (or other Word processing packages) – but the principles will be same..

If you want to take this technique further, then my suggestion would be to switch to Excel, which then gives you options of providing the learners with feedback, simple scoring mechanisms and validating their entries etc. I blogged about this previously at https://davefoord.wordpress.com/2010/05/20/using-excel-to-create-a-matching-pairs-activity/

Better ways to format a table within a Microsoft Word teaching resource

Although I use Excel and PowerPoint more than Word when creating teaching and learning resources, there are a few things that we can do in Word to improve its use when creating resources.

One area that often causes problems, is the use of tables within a document, as creating a table using the default settings will look OK initially on the screen, it will be OK if the resource is printed, but often doesn’t work well if the resource is accessed and edited online by the learner. When I create a table in a teaching resource, I want it to work well in all situations, so I have learnt a few tricks to help me with this.

This first video clip shows what the problems are, and what the solution may look like.

The next video shows you the steps required to create this effect.

Simple changes to the way that we use Microsoft Word can make a big difference to the output.

Using Word to create a ‘launch page’ within Blackboard

There have been various debates over the last few years about the use of VLE within education, and without going down that road at this point in time, there is one thing that I do find frustrating with VLEs – and that it the way that people getting sucked into ‘dumping’ resources and links into the VLE in a purely linear fashion. Moodle isn’t too bad if you learn to use the book, lesson or webpage tools but Blackboard isn’t as good at this, and once you have added more than about 7 items within a folder you are forcing the student to do lots of scrolling.

So if I am using Blackboard what I do instead is to create what I call a ‘launch page’ for each topic or week that I am teaching – where I provide links to the resources as before, but rather than them just appearing in a linear list – I provide a narration around the links, guiding the students through the resources in a more logical way, and in my opinion a more attractive away.

A launch page is just a simple web page (html) that you are upload into the VLE – if you have html skills and software you could use them, or if like me you don’t then you can use either PowerPoint or Word (or Excel). The next 2 video clips will take you through the process using Word, but the principles for PowerPoint are the same.

The first video shows how to create the launch page.

The second video shows how to upload this package to Blackboard 9.

At first this method may sound slower than the conventional method of upload files directly, but with practice it can become quicker – however if you need to change any of the content then you do need to edit the word document, resave it as a webpage, zip it up again and re-upload to Blackboard so doesn’t work well if the resources are regularly being changed or updated. A huge advantage of this though is that it is very easy to move the whole topics worth of resources from one system to another – so great if you teach at different organisations, or different courses within the same organisations, and if you need to work offline for any reason you can just easily copy the whole folder onto a memory stick and it will work from there.

Another thing to note is that you cannot track the access to individual files from this method, only access to the topic as a whole.

For me though, the additional pedagogical benefits that this method brings in terms of providing a sound narration around the resources, and the re-usability of the resources in different contexts is why I choose to use this method in my teaching.