To powerpoint or not to powerpoint?

The art of designing online learning resources 

For years I really got away from using powerpoint when I designed lecture materials for the classroom or online. It was old hat. Then captioning and ADA became a hot topic. After a long sojourn down the make-it-live lecture video path, I have turned my heels and headed right back where I started. If I have to caption a video and if I want to give my students every option possible, I think it wise to start with a powerpoint. Here’s why.

The powerpoint is a flexible work of art. The powerpoint file itself can be a treasure trove of information with live links, embedded video, voice recording, images, and text. But this a very large file so it is also nice that you can save the presentation as a pdf for easy sharing. In this file however you lose the interactivity.

To fight the flat document in cyberspace, screencast-o-matic enters the playing field, a free screen recording software. With this technology, you can capture voice, screen, and webcam all at once and immediately upload it to youtube (or download it to your computer). Your youtube channel even links to your screencast-o-matic login. I make most videos in one take if I have already prepared a powerpoint presentation.

This raises one other design shift that I want to mention. Wordy powerpoint slides used to be a no-no. But now, if you are going to caption anyway, why not actually write out the lecture narrative, stick it in the slide and away we go. Now you have an ADA-compliant resource that retains integrity whether it is being viewed, watched, listened to, or read.

Always embed your videos and if you want to reference a website, take a screenshot of the webpage you are hyperlinking and include this with the reference. Now you have an image for your presentation. You can even do this with a peer-reviewed article. Say the article is about teaching lab science, you can include a picture of students in the lab with the citation to keep it visually interesting while also academically appropriate.

Finally, whenever possible make the next step easy for your students. If you have the pdf file for the reference you want your students to read, by all means give it them. Link it to your powerpoint. If you want to challenge them to look up peer-reviewed literature, require them to find one article from the reference list in the article you supplied. Help them take the first step.

Here is my latest learning object:

Form and Function – the pdf lecture slides

Form and Function – the lecture video on scienceteachermg (youtube)

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