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Adapting Presentation Tools for Online Delivery

You’re likely to have a number of slides and handouts from your face-to-face course that can be readily employed in an online environment. We recommend taking a closer look at tools that can help you enhance your online courses with creatively and powerfully designed presentations:

  • Switch from outline/slideshow mode to narrative/discursive mode so students will get the material your slideshow is designed to summarize (i.e., send them a document or outline instead).
  • Reduce font sizes so you can combine slides and reduce overall file size. Students seated at a computer monitor can read many more words per slide than an audience seated 20 or more feet from a screen.
  • Avoid overuse of clip art and animation effects. Not all of these will transfer well to the web, and they add download time. Use only the minimum required to convey the instructional message, and test these carefully.
  • Consider your audience's ability to access the information you are providing to them. For example, be sure to make a transcript available for hearing-impaired students when using an audio-narrated slideshow.

Caveats

There are many challenges to using slides even in traditional settings with a skilled and engaging lecturer. These challenges are compounded online, especially when slideshows are used not simply as visual aids but as the primary conveyor of the message itself. It may seem self-evident, but it bears repeating: a series of bullet points cannot replace the words and ideas they are intended to summarize.

  • You can add an audio track to capture the lecture your slides support. But there's a missing critical element: a live presenter, whose visual cues and adaptability can make a lecture a truly interactive experience. So simply adding an audio track doesn't turn a slideshow into a lecture.
  • In addition, advice for designing slideshows to be presented in front of a large audience is not always appropriate when the audience can easily replay the slides at any point and is seated right at the display. Advice about font sizes or number of words per slide can be completely irrelevant in this context.

In short: Caveat praeceptor. Putting a slideshow on the web is not "putting a lecture on the web," although it can be one component of a good instructional presentation.

PowerPoint

PowerPoint is the most commonly used tool for making presentation visuals and is available to all FSU faculty, staff, and students through the university's Microsoft license. Keeping the above recommendations in mind, use this section to enhance your use of this familiar speaker’s tool:

  • Get started with a professionally designed sample presentation file. It’s pre-formatted with title slides and various layout options. Simply choose the slides that fit your needs and duplicate them to create your presentation.
  • Visit the SlideTeam website for a variety of educational themes, templates, and slides.
  • Visit LinkedIn Learning for training tutorials. FSU has an enterprise license that allows faculty and students to access the training courses. 

PowerPoint slideshows need not proceed in a linear, lockstep fashion, especially when students are controlling the progress of slides downloaded from a course site. Nonlinear presentations provide a more interactive environment for your students to explore content. You may use nonlinear PowerPoint slides to create storyboarding, quiz questions, etc., with a menu, home page, and navigational buttons.  View this example of a nonlinear slide presentation. To learn more, watch this video that guides you through the process of creating a nonlinear slide presentation.

Alternatives to the traditional, text-heavy design of PowerPoint include the Takahashi method and the Lessig method. The Takahashi method forgoes charts, color pictures, and bullet lists for large, concise text—typically ten characters or fewer—on a single slide. A similar approach is the Lessig method, which uses slides that often contain a single word or photo. Both approaches may be more useful in a face-to-face presentation than online, for reasons noted in the Recommendations section above. 

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  • 13-Feb-2020
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