We’ve all sat through PowerPoint presentations where the slide show is little more than bullet pointed comments, often read out loud by the presenter, with a matching hand out for us to follow. And it’s fair to say that it is a pretty boring experience. It goes without saying then that if we’re going to produce PowerPoints that are to used in our teaching and learning experiences we need them to be a bit more engaging than those mind numbing presentations many of us have sat through at various points in time. There are a number of things we can do to make PowerPoint more creative – both as a teaching tool and as an inspirational learning tool for our pupils. Previously on the blog I’ve talked about linking the use of PowerPoint to photo editing , creating art and designing comic book characters or fashion designs. I’ve also talked about using macros and hyperlinks and we’ve even looked at actual presentation work! But a question I get asked over and over again is about the creation of multimodal PowerPoints…so here we go.
A multimodal PowerPoint certainly has wow factor! It starts life as a basic PowerPoint with text boxes you can type into while the PowerPoint is running. To do this you need to make use of the Control Toolbox which you can find in the toolbar options if you use 2003. If you’re using 2007 you’ll need to click on the Windows icon in the top left of the screen, choose ‘PowerPoint Options’ and tick the option to show the Developer Toolbar in your ribbon – the Control Toolbox can then be located. If you haven’t used this technique for creating some classroom resources then I suggest you have a go: you can make some useful labelling activities that are interactive and will engage the children (particularly, I’ve found, the younger ones).
To move on from simple labelling activities you’ll need to create bigger interactive text boxes that will type on more than one line. If you follow this help sheet you should be able to do this quite easily. Once you’ve made one text box I would copy and paste it throughout the presentation and resize it as necessary: it will save you a lot of time! When making these presentations use action buttons in the lower corners to link the slides and disable the option to move the PowerPoint on via a mouse click (look at your options in Slide Transition task pane): this forces the pupils to use the action buttons to move through the slides. I’d also save these as PowerPoint Shows rather than PowerPoint Presentation (look for this in the drop down menu when you save, if using 2003, or choose other formats when using 2007): it means that when the pupils double click to access and start work they do not see the additional bits of the PowerPoint – they’re going directly to Slide Show view. Look at this example to see what I mean
Well so far, so good, but if we really want to bring this to another level it’s worth introducing some video clips to the mix. I would never have thought of using PowerPoint in this way if it was not for Sir Tim of the Rylands who has one of the most awe inspiring and interesting blogs ever – thanks Tim! The toughest part with this is finding videos (although using the videos option in Google helps) but there are a number of things you can do. Obviously you can search You Tube (which I often do) but you’ll also need to download and convert anything you want to use (time consuming but worth it). It’s also worth looking at the Teacher’s TV website and the ever wonderful( everything you might want already categorised into subject areas) Teaching Videos site run by the ever busy Mark Warner. Again you will need to download and convert you chosen (nothing’s ever THAT easy is it?) but it is worth it! Another option is to use something like Fraps for screen capture purposes – excellent if you’re exploring literacy using Myst or something similar. The reason I always download the videos is that they can’t be embedded in a PowerPoint so you’ll need to link to them from your hard drive to get them to play in your show. I just insert them in the normal way (Insert – Movie – from file) and select ‘click to play’ (this means they can also be clicked to pause action). You can insert a media player – I usually don’t bother but it’s simple enough to do if you want to.
Just a final tip. When I create a multimodal with video I create a folder for it first and place everything I need (any video content and the actual PowerPoint show) in the folder. It’s the best way to ensure the multimodal links together properly and also means I can copy the folder into individual pupil folders and they can all access the same content. The finished shows should really engage the learners have a look at this Ks2 example or an example created for younger pupils and see how you could use them in your classroom