Sunday, March 20, 2011

The point is the power of the Powerpoint Slide Master

The Slide Master: Have you ever needed to group your Powerpoint slides, where the slides within each group share some information, such as a header, footer, images, or other elements? As you can imagine, if you had to change that shared content on each individual slide in the group, it could mean a lot of repetitive work. Instead, in this post we will look at the Slide Master using a Jeopardy game presentation as an example.

What is a Slide Master: A Slide Master stores information about the theme and slide layouts of a presentation. In reality, a Slide Master is a group of layouts that contains the master layout and several slide layouts. Every presentation contains at least one Slide Master. If your presentation has 10 groups of slides, then you can create 10 Slide Masters, each one customized for the group it represents. Content that will be repeated in each group, can then be added on the Slide Master. Each slide created from this Master will already be populated with the repetitive information.

Application: For my example, I will use a Jeopardy-like game presentation. Recently, I wanted to create a game for my students, however, I wanted an easily re-usable presentation. In such a presentation, generally, there is a table containing links to slides for each category. The slides for each category share at least the title or the name of the category.

So, the slides for each column of this table belong to a group with the title that matches the category name given at the top of the column.

The other thing to note is that each group of slides also shares some properties. Every slide in each group contains an answer, a hidden response in the form of a question, and a link back to the above table. In order to share these properties across groups, Powerpoint allows you to create a Slide Master from an existing Slide Master.

The Solution: Here are the basic steps for creating the presentation:
  • Create the first two slides, introduction slide and the table, as you would normally create a presentation.
  • Edit the existing Slide Master to match the first category.
  • Rename the Slide Master to the name of the category to make it easier to distinguish between the collection of Slide Masters.
  • Add category name in a textbox.
  • Add placeholders for the answer and the question-response.
  • Add a back button to take us back to the table.
  • Animate the response, so that it isn't visible until we click.
  • Duplicate this Slide Master for each of the remaining categories.
  • Rename the new Slide Masters appropriately, and change the category name on the content layout.

Below is a short video clip that shows these steps in action. Please keep in mind that the main goal of the video clip is to show the Slide Masters, so very little attention is given to other details.

I will make my completed copy of the sample presentation available for download after March 30, 2011 via a comment on this post. In the meantime, happy Power Sliding, Master!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Teacher-Student Facebook friending

This is one of those topics that has the potential to fill a silent room with a heated discussion. No, I'm not trying to start such a discussion; I just want to share some clarifications about the Facebook environment.

Facebook provides various tools for social networking. There are personal profiles and there are pages and groups. I think that there is a tendency to overlook this fact and use the wrong tool sometimes, and that can lead to eyebrows and questions being raised or to bigger problems.

If we try to equate the Facebook environment to the offline-world environment, it may help us better understand the options and implications. The comparison would be something like this. Your personal profile is like your home, a Facebook page is like the information desk in the lobby of a building of an organization, and a group is somewhat like a conference room or a meeting place.

Personal profile:
For friends and family, we share our profiles by becoming friends, in other words invite them into our homes. They can see all the pictures on the walls, get a closer look at out hobbies, living style and other personal information that we openly display throughout our homes.

Facebook Pages:
Pages are for public figures, and Facebook treats corporate entities as these figures as well. So, for example, Tim Burton might create a personal profile for his friends and family, and a Facebook page for all his fans. Similarly, IU Schools and departments would also create pages to disseminate information to faculty, staff, and students. Anyone who "Likes" a page, sees updates from that page, on their wall.

Facebook Groups:
Facebook groups are then the perfect place for faculty and students to "meet." The group model matches up perfectly with the class model. A group provides the students a place to discuss ideas/topics with other students or ask the instructor questions, and a place where the instructor can post ideas, questions and answers. As members of this group, the instructor as well as the students see group activity on their personal wall, but their personal information is not exposed. Groups also provide more control over permissions and memberships, so you could say that these are meant for ... uhm! ... groups of people.

So, if you really are friends with your students, you may feel completely comfortable inviting them into your Facebook-home, however, you should also take a look at the Facebook FAQ for some more detailed information about these and other tools to help you make a better decision about the best way to integrate social networking into your coursework.