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PowerPoint Rebellion: One Professor’s Pioneering Experimentation with Interactivity

Applies to: PowerPoint 2007, PowerPoint 2003

Author: Robert Lane and Dr. C. June Maker

Date Created: March 10th 2009
Last Updated: June 14th 2012

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Know Your Content
Don’t Duplicate Slides
Choose Categories Carefully

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Know Your Content

(Maker) “Oh, my … there are many. Well, there is no substitute for knowing your content and knowing what you want to say at all times. When moving around between topics, you must always keep perspective on where you are in your message, what content is available, what ideas you plan to share with people, and where to find that information. Some viewers get the impression that I bounce around between visual topics at will, as though having a spontaneous verbal conversation—and it does look that way sometimes—but in reality I know exactly what I want to say, when I want to say it, and where to find the slides I need. The process is very well planned in advance. Certainly I do make decisions spontaneously now and then, especially while answering questions or when an idea pops into my head that wasn’t anticipated. For the most part, though, my talks and classroom sessions are highly planned and I know my stuff; navigation options simply give me flexibility to make small adjustments along the way if necessary.”


Don’t Duplicate Slides

Also, I strongly recommend having only one instance of each slide in your collection and leaving all your slides in fixed locations. I didn’t do that when first transitioning to PowerPoint, back while still using standard linear slide shows. I made new shows for each performance and often copied material from one show to another. After a while, I had many different versions of the same slides scattered all over the place. It was a mess. Now I have only one copy of any slide, located in a permanent, familiar location so that I can find it quickly. On a given day, I may present to students, educators, community leaders, business executives, or whomever. It doesn’t matter. When I want that slide showing an example of superior spatial artistic intelligence at the K-2 grade level … voila! there it is. Regardless of audience, or the context of my talk on any occasion, I don’t have to think twice about where to go to find the slides I need because they are always sitting there in the same spot waiting for me.”


Choose Categories Carefully

“We struggled with an issue early on that probably will be a challenge for you as well. What if a slide fits into more than one category? In my case, a picture of a child working through an assessment exercise might be useful when talking about curriculum topics too. Should I place it in the assessment branch or the curriculum branch? I recommended a moment ago not duplicating slides. Therefore, it has to go in one category or the other, but which one? Here are a few guidelines that can help:

  • Where will the slide see the most use? Frequency of use often determines placement choice
  • When you quickly think about that slide, which category or context immediately comes to mind? Probably that same kind of fast association will happen while in front of an audience as well. Thus, place the slide where your subconscious thoughts have a tendency to look for it
  • Does the slide have more associations with one category than the other? If it has several uses in an assessment context and is only tangentially related to curriculum issues, it goes in the assessment branch
  • Once a choice is made, does it stand the test of time? If one of my pictures works equally well in one category or the other, I make a choice and then see how I feel about it over time. If I find myself thinking time and again, ‘I really don’t care for that location after all’, I move it-especially if I ever have trouble remembering where I put it.”


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