• Dave Foord
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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

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.

Simple formatting tips in Excel, to improve quality of learning materials

People often talk about what is there favourite e-learning tool or piece of software, and if I am asked, I answer by saying “If I were to be abandoned on a desert island with 30 students, with computers but I was only allowed one piece of software, I would take Microsoft Excel”

Why – quite simply it is a very powerful tool, which when you know how to use it, becomes a very easy tool within which to create learning materials, and even though I have access to more sophisticated tools, over 50% of the learning objects that I create use Excel. A lot of people think that Excel is about tables of data, with an ugly grid behind and complicated tool bars and navigation system – but when creating learning objects, all these can be stripped out, so when the learner views the resource they won’t even realise that it is Excel.

This short screencast shows a few such formatting tips that can be applied to make a learning resource more user friendly.

or – http://screenr.com/CKp

I will be creating a series of blog post on the use of Excel over the coming weeks, so watch this space for more information.

Changing the menu items on AccessApps

Anyone that follows my work, or this blog will be aware that I have been a big fan of AccessApps – the suite of free software that you can download from http://www.eduapps.org and put onto a memory stick, and then give to learners and staff. Something that a lot of people don’t realise is that you can actually edit the appearance of AccessApps, so it is possible to rename programs, hide ones that aren’t likely to be needed, and change the arrangement of the menu structure.

For some learners, there may be only 2 or 3 items on AccessApps that they need, and these could be made more obvious (and the others hidden if necessary) to make it easy for them to find them, as with the full range of options in AccessApps the software itself could present barriers.

Another thing that people often don’t realise is that it is possible to add other software packages to the sticks, so for example if you are giving staff the sticks, and your organisation uses SmartBoards – then you can download version 9.1 of the SmartBoard software that runs off a USB stick, and you could then add this to AccessApps so that it appears in the menu.

I worked on a project recently, where we gave the learners a copy of AccessApps, although we created our own version (by using the MyApps option on the eduapps website) to remove some of the software that we thought that they may not need. We then renamed some of the items (e.g. we renamed RapidSet – to ‘Changing background and font colours’ as this made more sense. We also changed the names of the items within OpenOffice to ‘Wordprocessing, Spreadsheet, PowerPoint alternative’ etc. as this made more sense to the learners.

I have created a short screencast to show how it is possible to add software to the sticks, and then a brief description of how to format the menus.

When you start looking at the folders that come within AccessApps, you will realise that you could create your own ‘launch page’ using Word, PowerPoint, Excel or similar. All you need to do is create the file and save it to the memory stick, then add the names of items that you want to link to, and then hyperlink to the .exe file for each piece of software in turn. With this the learner would open this file to access their software, rather than launching the application (which puts the little blue capital letter in bottom right corner of screen) – the beauty of this is it is then very easy to make the menu much larger, in different colours, or even be based on images rather than text.