Posts tagged PowerPoint

Thiagi's Four Doors

A Charge Towards the Finish Line

I’ve had a mad dash of a week, working to get my final project for the excellent UCI E-Learning Certificate Program. I’ve been working my way through the course for about 18 months now. I must say, I’ve met some really inspiring educators, I’ve worked really hard, including juggling the birth of our third child, and have learned A LOT. I think I’ll have to do a separate post about my learning journey.

Thiagi's Four Doors

Thiagi’s Four Doors

  • So first of all this week, I handed in my mega (slightly over-ambitious) e-learning course on Presentation Design. I wanted to do something that would really engage learners, so I went for something which was ambitious both technically and pedagogically. Our task was to design an e-learning lesson lesson, and I guess I ended up designing about 4-6 lessons, with about another 16 to go if I want to complete the course! My lesson is based on Thiagi’s Four Doors approach, so it includes library, café, play and assessment elements. Check out the first of 4 lessons here: 
  • While I was doing some voiceover recording for the piece, I discovered an amazing plugin for the (free) recording software, Audacity. Often in the past when I have recorded myself, I’ve been annoyed by the hiss and hum you hear in the background between when one spoken sentence and the next. A noise gate helps you to record much better-sounding speech, by cutting this out. It’s great for podcasts and school projects as well as better e-learning, of course, being part of the audacity project, it’s also free:
  • Here’s a recording of the Noise Gate filter in action if you’re curious. Bear in mind, that most normal people wouldn’t record a podcast with a fan blowing right behind them, so the effects are a bit exaggerated in this recording.

  • I’ve been tweeting about education since….  2007 I think My Twitter tag  is @sethdickens if you’re interested. In the beginning I tweeted a LOT, but then lost interest a bit, as Twitter became a bit, well, too full of noise. However, in the past 4 weeks, I’ve started getting interested again, especially after my conversations with Microsoft. It was so strange to be chatting to a software behemoth. They must have an amazing social media team.

      • The Office folk then told me about Office Mix. It’s a free plugin for PowerPoint’13, which seems to do a similar job to Articulate. It looks brilliant. I’m definitely going to give it a try.
  • I was also invited to become a Beta Tester for Articulate Presenter 13 v4. I love the Articulate software and would love to know how a Beta testing program works, so I’ll definitely be getting involved there, too.
  • I spent the last part oif the weekend fighting with Moodle’s SCORM Settings. Horrible! No matter how I changed the settings, it really spoiled the look and feel of my beautifully, lovingly crafted Courseware. Hrrmpph. Okay, well I did find a super guide which helped me figure out the best of the awful settings to use:

Death By PowerPoint? No Thanks! – Digital Storytelling Using PowerPoint

PowerPoint has the ability to utterly, utterly destroy your soul with boredom – and yet it can totally engage your students’ attention and draw them into a digital story plot if used well. And how should you use it well? These slides will show you! 🙂

I have posted these before, but this is a slightly updated version that I made for the teachers and trainers at Bolzano Free University’s language department (a tri-lingual University in the north of Italy!)

I had wanted to upload this to VoiceThread so that you, my dear readers, could ask and answer questions and see how effective Voicethread is – unfortunately, Voicethread allows a maximum of 50 slides per presentation and … well… this has several more slides than this. Anyhow, the first slides are the digital story part. If you’d like to skip straight to the  PowerPoint hints and tips, go to slide number 48.

Hope this is helpful – if you have any questions, leave them in a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

How To Build A PLN

Video – Build a PLN Step-by-Step (Personal Learning Network)

Professional Learning Networks (PLNs) are nothing particularly new, fancy, or special: just by being here and reading this you’re becoming part of my network in a way. PLNs have such a huge potential, which I still don’t think is being talked about widely enough.

I was performing some online college tutoring services for The University of Dresden recently, working with a great bunch of PhD students looking into digital literacies together. The group were really mixed, with engineers, forestry, medical and humanities students all in the same group. In the final week of the course I wanted to encourage them to create their own Professional Learning Network (PLN) so that after the course they would become more autonomous as learners and hopefully pick up new digital lietracies as they went along.

I wanted to show them a simple video to start off the week’s learning that would define PLNs in general terms. Try as I might, every single video I could find on YouTube was aimed squarely at teachers, or educators (and many of those were aimed at language teachers, too!)

So cutting a long story short, I decided to make my own video which in under five minutes could explain in clear terms:

  • What a PLN is – and why it’s worth having
  • Things students should consider before setting one up
  • Some basic web-based tools that will help you get started

8 hours later, after lots of cutting clips, editing audio,  shunting slides about to fit the narration, the final product is here.


Please really do feel free to use this with your students, trainees and colleagues – I made it using a Creative Commons license deliberately so that other folk could also use it. The only thing I ask is that you kindly credit me as the author of it 🙂

So, like I said at the end of the video: Let’s try to get as many useful PLN connections going on as possible in our network. I’m @SethDickens if you want to connect on Twitter, alternatively, if you have any other questions, queries or are looking for help in setting up a PLN, do please ask away by posting a comment in reply to this post!

You Suck At PowerPoint!

Or you might suck at PowerPoint if you don’t try to cut out the common mistakes many presenters make. I know that I used to suck – badly, too!
Over on his Slideshare page Jesse Dee has prepared a presentation for The World’s Best Presentation competition that he’s called, you guessed it, You Suck At PowerPoint.

As Jesse points out, there are countless other books and Slideshares out there that discuss how to improve you PowerPoint slides, I’ve posted several presentations with hints and tips here in the past myself. Jesse’s managed to condense all these ideas down into 5 easy to remember rules here though. Take a look – it might just save your talk!

View more presentations from @JESSEDEE.

I think I am probably still guilty of breaking the editing rule. My talks often contain too many slides. I’m going to have to work on that next. I Which of Jesse’s 5 rules do you break? Let us know in the comments section!



The Language of Successful Presentations

Ever wondered how Apple manage to do such great presentations? Well, apart from the fact that they have fabulous designers who make wonderfully simple, easy to understand slides, they also use exceptionally positive language in their presentations.

Take a look at this video, what do you notice about the language used?

So, okay the video is actually a bit of gentle fun-poking at Apple (it’s a summary in 120 seconds of a 90 minute recent Apple talk) but it does illustrate really well the power of positive language in a talk. I don’t even remember what I saw in the vidoe, but I do remember that it was “great, fantastic, incredible, amazing” and other things like that.

Next time I, or one of my students present something, I’ll be sure that it’s amazing, incredible, fantastic, great, too. Won’t you?

Have you got any other key language, phrases or words that you encourage your students to use in their presentations? Be sure to share them in the comments section!
All the best, Seth.

The 10 20 30 rule.

The 10/20/30 PowerPoint Rule.

If you haven’t heard about it, Guy Kawasaki coined a clever little expression a while back to help folk improve their PowerPoint presentations. He called it the 10, 20, 30 rule.


The 10 20 30 rule.

Image from:

  • 10 – No more than ten slides in your presentation. This key number is supposed to help focus your audiences minds on your message, rather than your slides.
  • 20 – If you have a one hour meeting, aim to finish your slides in no more than 20 minutes. What with technical problems, questions and chatting, you’ll end up running out of time and going too fast at the end if you try to cram in too much.
  • 30 – No font size smaller than 30. If you want your audience to be able to read your slides (you do!) then make sure your text is legible. If you find yourself trying to use a smaller font to squeeze it all in, ask yourself:
    • do you need all that text anyway?
    • shouldn’t the main message come from you, not your slides?
    • wouldn’t it be better to spread the information over more than one slide?

What made me decide to point all this out here though is because I found a nice little presentation on SlideShare today by Cory O’Brien that explains all of this in a nice, visual way. Have a look:


Guy even goes as far as giving us a suggested theme of what should go on each slide. Although I think this is far more relevant to marketers and business-people, I think it’s worth bearing in mind for education, too (and of course it works excellently for a business English teacher.) You can see Guy’s suggestions on Cory’s slide number 3 above. Better still, why not listen to it from the horses mouth Guy himself:

So, there we have it. If I haven’t convinced you, I hope Guy has!

Got a great PowerPoint tip? Is there a mnemonic-like “rule” you tell yourelf before starting to plan a presentation? Be sure to tell us about it in the comments section below! 🙂

All the best and happy presenting!




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