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a little on PowerPoint and images

August 13, 2008

I use Microsoft’s PowerPoint a lot in my teaching not only for introducing and reviewing content, but I also use it for presenting the answers to exercises. I find that while this is time consuming in making the slides, it serves two good purposes. First of all it cuts down on the time in class for writing the answers down either on the board or on an overhead projector slide. Second, students get the answers in a way that helps them see the correct answers and check their work. In addition, I can put the answers on the learning management system (LMS) so they can review the answers or even do and check exercises we don’t get to in class or check homework outside of class. For students who crave additional work, this satisfies some of the hunger.

I add the exercises in a couple of ways. If I have a digital copy of the exercise, I copy the text into PowerPoint and format it. I do this first before I put the answers in. When I put the answers in either with a text box or a circle, I do one the way I want it including the animation such as appear or box. After I have one, I can copy and paste and the animation is done automatically either on the same page or on new pages. This saves a lot of time. This is why it is important to first copy all the text in before inserting the answers.

When I scan an exercise, I cut and paste the exercise. I use Paint.net, a windows paint program, that crops well. I used Irfan View, but I found sometimes I had difficulties with the cropping and moving up and down in a page. In addition, Paint.net has a very good image sharpening effect in the effects that can make a weak scan more legible. From there, the process is similar to the text techniques. I haven’t had an issue with size, but it is probably wise if this proves to be a problem, to set the size in the paint program. I haven’t tried this with Gimp yet, but I just switched to a mac and will possibly have to if I do this at home instead of the office.

Since I use PowerPoint a great deal, I find I need a lot of images. I sometimes bargain shop at istockphoto, but I use most of my photos by searching flickrcc or the Microsoft image database. The Microsoft clip art on this site often is scalable which is much preferable to gif and jpg files that lose their sharpness as they are expanded. There is an excellent tutorial at The Rapid E-Learning Blog that first explains the difference between the two types of images, bitmap and scalable vectors, and then shows how to use the ungroup process in PowerPoint to make the vector files more appropriate for your presentation. I have played around with it a little, but I haven’t used the technique to produce something for my class.

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