The first step is to answer the question: “What is the Purpose?” Is the presentation going to give new information, or review content? Is the presentation meant to get students thinking or show how to proceed through a difficult idea? Is the presentation meant to inspire? Yes, a presentation can do all three, but knowing the main purpose of the presentation will influence a number of factors and can influence what type of tool you use to build it. Answering the question will give you a clear direction for building a presentation.
Next, let’s look at formatting issues.
This is an interesting area to consider, especially if you are developing presentations for an online class. Students do well with routine. Even visual routine. If every presentation in the class has a new theme, new transitions, aspects like that, students do have to navigate the new interaction with the presentation. Yes, I am emphasizing the online environment, but it is something to consider for blended classes. For my English 1010 course, I use the same theme for all my essay specific presentations. I also use the same format, meaning I have the same headings across each presentation. For example I have a section for thesis development in each presentation. I do change the color scheme for each essay. I don’t want the class to feel cookie cutter like. I also use a different theme for other types of presentations. So there is a balance of routine and creativity for the class.
I love using movie clips and other pop culture references in my class. But flooding a presentation with YouTube videos or pictures can be a distraction for students. In a face-to-face class I can lead a discussion after viewing a video. In the online environment that takes time to develop and needs to be a part of the presentation. The use of photos or clip art can also be overdone. It is OK to have text only slides. Again, the purpose of the presentation can help you find the balance of media to use in the presentation.
At the center of the presentation is the content. Here are a few suggestions that can help students interact with the content.
One of the most important areas to consider is students taking notes over the presentation. Many instructors make a PDF version of the presentation, maybe with lines next to the slide to take notes. In a lecture class this can work because the instructor will give more information than is covered in the presentation. But in an online course? The PDF is now reference material for the student. Providing a graphic organizer, pre-made or instructor designed, will give the student a direction for taking notes with the presentation.
There are a few things you can do in the presentation to help the student work with the content. First, bold important vocabulary words. Especially words that are important to you as an instructor that are not in the book. Second idea, italicize your thoughts on the slide. When we are lecturing in front of students we make reinforcing statements about ideas. You can do this if you record your voice with presentations, but that option isn’t needed for every presentation. So, if you have information that you want to add, italicize it. It gives the idea of you talking to the student. Finally, reference back to the book when needed with page numbers. This builds a bridge between the need for the book and the purpose of the presentation.
Feel free to explore the presentation options in this Symbaloo mix. I will be updating the mix as I discover new tools. If you have ideas or new presentation tools to share, please share them in the comment section.