Category Archives: presentation skills

Supporting the Student Support

The role of the Teaching Enhancement Unit within DCU is typically to support academics in the area of teaching and learning. While the general training and workshops that we offer are open to all staff, the majority of the training is targeted towards academics.Yesterday was more of an exception;  my colleague Dr Pip Ferguson and I delivered a workshop to staff from our Student Support and Development Unit. Based on our experience yesterday both Pip and I strongly feel that this “exception” should and will become more of the norm. Traditionally my counterparts in most universities deal solely with academics whether by direct intent or just due to lack of resources but yesterday reinforced my opinion in the absolute need for my unit to also directly help those that support students.

We ran a two hour workshop with 15 staff providing hints and tips on presenting to students and running workshops. But more importantly the workshop provided a forum where staff were able to share experiences and ask questions. The willingness of the staff to participate and generally engage with the workshop was very noticeable. Several points struck me through the morning, notably as part of an exercise participants were asked to chat to their colleagues about presenting to students. On more than one occasion I overheard people asking their colleagues “what do you actually do?”. I have no doubt that this arises from the fact that we are always chasing our tail and so busy with our own work that we don’t get the opportunity to see what our immediate colleagues do. Even though this particular unit appears very close on a personal level and I’ve always got a good vibe when I walk through their doors (it’s one of the nicest places to walk into within the college) . I believe their unit suffers from the same physical  location condition that we suffer from within the Teaching Enhancement Unit; sometimes people can be just tucked away in their offices, which despite working on the same team  they can be spread across a large area making it difficult for team members to interact and “socially” talk about work. While changing the layout of buildings and re-organising offices can be prohibitive, days like yesterday help address this type of issue. The second point of note was in addition to the very positive feedback received, there was an appetite for more – which is always. So we are following the workshop up by creating a resources page for staff containing these teaching tips/guidelines and providing staff with the opportunity to ask more questions and continue the learning beyond the 2 hours delivered yesterday. The final point that was very reassuring for me was that so many of the good points and suggestions were actually advanced by the participants themselves. To me this illustrated their belief in what they want to do and their interest in improving.

The next step following the set up of this resources page is to plan more workshops and build on the appetite that exists to learn more and to improve the student (and staff) experience




Novel ways to present images and video in a powerpoint presentation

I am constantly looking or new ways to “jazz up” my presentations and recently I cam across two methods that i found quite nice; using an iphone image to encase your videos and creating a photocube effect for presenting images. The Youtube clip below ilustrates how to implement these two ideas

A brief guide to Jing – the free screencasting tool


JIng (Photo credit: blogpocket)

The always-ready program that allows you to instantly capture images and record video on your computer—then share them with anyone through a variety of web 2 tools. The video below gives a nice introduction to Jing and how easy it is to use.

Good points

  • It’s easy to use
  • it’s free
  • It captures both picture and movie from your screen
  • it’s very easy to link with other web 2 tools i.e. twitter, facebook etc
  • You can download the movie onto your computer to edit if you have an editing program

Bad points

  • You are limited to five minutes recording
  • you have to install the program on your PC/Mac

If you like what you have just seen but don’t want to download it yet –  Try an interactive Jing Tutorial

A brief guide to – the web based screencasting tool

ScreenR is a web based screencasting tool that makes it very easy to create and share screencasts

You must have an account to record and publish a screencast but you can sign into an account through Facebook, Twitter, Google, Windows Live or LinkedIn. Alternatively you can just create a “ScreenR” account

This video gives you a very quick overview of screenR

with a more comprehensive walk through available in the video at the bottom of this post

The good points

  • It’s free
  • it’s easy to use
  • it’s web based so its accessible from everywhere with the internet
  • you can download your video or export it to youtube

The bad points

  • you are limited to five minutes
  • zooming in and out during recording is not possible
  • How to create a mathcast with a tablet, MS OneNote and Screenr (2mins) created using Screenr and a tablet

  • Compound Interest Example (3mins) created using Screenr, a tablet and Articulate Studio

Articulate presenter

Articulate Presenter ’09 makes it easy for anyone to add interactivity and narration to PowerPoint slides.

Just click a button to turn your presentation into a compelling Flash course.
Create Flash content with ease

Click here for the main features of presenter 09

How to … guide

This section gives short video clip instructions on how to compelte various taks using Articulate

Getting Started

How do I add a movie to my presentation

How do I record narration and symchronise my animations within my presentation

How to upload a presenter file to moodle

How to combine Quiz Properties, hidden slides and branching options in course development. #articulate

More advanced features

Here’s how to embed Google Maps into your #Articulate presentation via web objects

How to embed video as a web object into an Articulate presentation

Using Articulate Web Objects to provide slide-level attachments or resources

How to insert a flash video

How to simulate multiple videos on a single slide in Presenter ’09

How to insert an Articulate Presenter slide into an Engage Tabs interaction

how to upload an articulate file as a scorm object so it can be tracked by blackboard

Podcasting – some useful resources

why podcasts can be useful in teaching, what tools can be used to make them, and how they can incorporate them into their Google Sites. The links below includes a video, downloadable notes, and some useful resources for additional information all orientated around podcasting.

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Prezi – the alternative to powerpoint, an ideal tool for group work for students

Prezi Logo

Prezi Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I had a go at Prezi today – It takes a little getting used to but it is a nice alternative to powerpoint. Just like powerpoint you can spend more time messing about with the various settings changing the way things look on your presentation. So take my advice and remember that your target is to get the information across, not have it flash across the screen in bright colours and flashing lights.

Have a look at this prezi video to get yourself started

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Wouldn’t it be nice if everybody knew how good you were at your job?

In teaching this is particularly relevant – people are very quick to point out your shortfalls, question your “long” holidays and short working week”. The majority of those people in my opinion do not know the half of what goes on in a classroom and to be honest I have given up trying to explain myself them. However I would like more of my colleagues to know what I’m doing. An ideal way to let your colleagues know is through presenting posters and papers on your work at teaching and learning conferences. There are a variety of great conferences in Ireland, three excellent conferences that spring to mind are those organised by Learning Innovation Network (LIN), Irish Learning and Technology Association (ILTA) and the National Academy for Integrated Research into Teaching and Learning (NAIRTL) respectively. For those not familiar with these type of conferences they normally consist of a keynote speaker and then the audience is usually given the option of three of four parallel sessions, i.e. three or four speakers presenting simultaneously in different rooms. You make your choice of which parallel session to attend based on two things – the title of the talk and the abstract associated with that talk

I recently had the experience of presenting at an international conference in Barcelona, Edulearn 2011. For all you Twitter fans #edulearn11 will give you an indication of the activity over the few days. With over 600 delegates from across the world and boasting six parallel sessions this conference was extremely informative. I was fortunate enough to present my work to nearly 150 of conference participants, a thoroughly enjoyable experience. I have been at conferences in the past where  I have had only 20 people in the room and although you can never predict who you are going to be “up against” presenting in the room next door I believe the number of people willing to attend your talk does not boil down to pot luck. Two key factors are your abstract and more importantly your title. With an array of talks to choose from, yours has to stand out. Most conferences produce a timetable containing a spreadsheet of all of the talks and the presenters. You have to have a title that catches the readers’ eye and ideally contains keywords related to your topic of choice. Once you’ve got them hooked on the title, most readers will glance at your abstract, normally in an accompanying conference brochure. This is your make or break moment. Your abstract has to be just right. I had the privilege of attending a module in DIT recently presented by Dr Roisin Donnelly. I have no doubt that Roisins advice helped me and I would encourage anybody interested in presenting at a conference to invest time into writing a decent title and abstract, otherwise “nobody will know how good you are at your job”

Assessing presentation skills

Many of the courses in higher education focus on the development of competencies, such as written and oral communication, leadership, and teamwork (Kerby & Romine, 2010). However, the practical logistics of assessing students on these competencies can sometimes be inhibitive. For example, first year science students in IT Tallaght were required to make a presentation as part of their assessment. However, with over 80 students, even limiting the presentations to five minutes each, this one assessment takes an excessive amount of class time. The time involved can be reduced by making it a group presentation, however group work presents its own challenges in terms of assessing individual student contribution and effort (Perdigones, García, Valiño, & Raposo, 2009). Two different technologies were utilised to address these challenges; screen casting and google docs.

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