Friday, March 20, 2020

A Quick Guide to Adding Multimedia to PowerPoint Presentations


There are several possibilities for adding narration and other forms of multimedia to PowerPoint presentations.

To begin, the right hardware is needed: A microphone for capturing voice and a webcam for video. Most laptop computers have these features built-in, but some desktops may be lacking this hardware. Webcams that include microphones are inexpensive (about $30) if your computer does not have microphone or video capture capabilities.  

The most basic software option would be to use the presentation recording options in PowerPoint. These can be accessed using the “record slide show” option of the “slide show” tab. When a recording is started, PowerPoint will capture narration plus slide transitions, pen annotations (control-p), and laser pointer effects (control-left mouse button). The resulting multimedia presentation can be saved as a PowerPoint file. Another option is to export the narrated PowerPoint file to video (file > export > video) for sharing.

For more information:

The recording and editing features of PowerPoint are limited. Techsmith’s Camtasia offers more powerful options for combining presentations with webcam video and audio. Similarly, OBS Studio is a free, open-source application for capturing and editing multimedia.

Adding audio and video to a presentation has a “wow!” factor, but there are some important downsides to consider. Multimedia requires a lot of data, resulting in large files. People with slow or unreliable internet connections could have difficulty accessing these files. If the presentation is shared as a PowerPoint file, the viewer will also need to have PowerPoint software to open the file. This can be problematic because not everyone has this software due to the expense. Finally, the creation of files with audio and video can be technically demanding and labor intensive for the presenter.

Files for sharing this blog post:

Created: March 20, 2020
Gary Fisk, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, Georgia Southwestern State University
Author of Slides for Students, a book about teaching with PowerPoint

Monday, March 16, 2020

How to Rapidly Transform Standard PowerPoint Slides to an Online Teaching Format


When moving traditional class content online, it might seem reasonable to simply upload existing PowerPoint presentations to a learning management system and call it a day! However, most PowerPoint presentations are designed to supplement a spoken presentation. The PowerPoint content of most presentations – bullet points of key terms – may not be enough for novice learners.

One way to overcome this problem is to use the “notes” feature to write short descriptions of the essential ideas from each PowerPoint slide. The aim is to add important information that would ordinarily be spoken. The slides plus notes can then be shared with students by printing the file to a .pdf format (portable document format) for sharing on a learning management system.

Author view:

This is a PowerPoint slide with bullet points and an image.


Print to pdf:

This is the printing view showing the printer (pdf) and slides (notes pages) settings.

Creating a pdf file for sharing with students is recommended because pdf files are easier to view than PowerPoint files. The hyperlinks to relevant information are preserved in the pdf file.

There are other possibilities for adding the spoken component to a file that can be shared. The command “record slide show” from the “slide show” tab can capture voice with the slides, which can then be saved and shared. Software applications like Camtasia can add additional multimedia features, such as video. The downsides are that this approach is time-consuming and requires more technical expertise. It can also be problematic for students that don't have access to optimum technology.

Good luck with your efforts to move course content online!

I thank Ellen Cotter and Steve Haase for their helpful feedback on this idea.

Please feel free to save or share the following files that describe this approach.
Created: March 15, 2020
Gary Fisk, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, Georgia Southwestern State University
Author of Slides for Students, a book about teaching with PowerPoint


Thursday, March 5, 2020

How to remember protoanopia, deuteranopia, and tritanopia

Dichromatism is a form of color blindness in which one of the three cone receptor subtypes is missing or abnormal. There are three possible forms, which are protoanopia, deuteranopia, and tritanopia.

It has been difficult for me to remember which name represents which form of dichromatism even though I have taught this topic for a long time. The names really didn't make much sense.

Today, this mental block was resolved. Here's a way to remember these forms and their underlying issues.

  • Protoanopia: Proto means one or first, a synonym for primitive. These individuals are missing the long wavelengths, the L or "red" cones.
  • Deuteranopia: Deuter referring to second, like the word deuce. This refers to the medium wavelengths, the M or "green" cones.
  • Triatanopia: The Tri prefix means third. This represents the short wavelengths, S or "blue". 
This scheme is ordered 1, 2, and 3 for the long, medium, and short wavelengths, respectively. Problem solved!

Summary of "No Implicit-Explicit Racial Attitude Correlation in a White Sample from the rural South of the United States"

Steve Haase and I recently published "No Implicit-Explicit Racial AttitudeCorrelation in a White Sample fromthe rural South of the United States" in the Journal of Articles in Support of the Null Hypothesis. Here's a quick take on the paper.

A consistent finding since the introduction of the Implicit Association Test (IAT) is that it correlates only weakly with explicit attitudes. The reason for the lack of a relationship is unclear. An early interpretation was that the near zero relationship is a sign of unconscious processing. There are other possibilities though, perhaps technical in nature.

We hypothesized that a larger implicit-explicit correlation could be found if the explicit attitudes were more extreme. A sample of white participants was collected from the rural South of the United States, a region with a history of black prejudice. They were tested on the Modern Racism Scale (MRS; explicit attitude) and a race IAT. The MRS scores were higher than a comparable sample from Pennsylvania, but this did not lead to a strong MRS-IAT correlation. The lack of an implicit-explicit relationship does not seem to be attributable to a restriction of range effect.

We thank Stephen Reysen (the editor) and the reviewers for being open to publishing research that does not reach the traditional criterion for statistical significance.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Presentation at Teaching Matters on March 13, 2020

I'll be presenting a poster on "The Effective Use of PowerPoint Presentations in Education" at the Gordon State College Teaching Matters conference on March 13 (9:00am). Please consider attending this presentation if you will be at the conference.

The poster covers some key themes from the book, Slides for Students. The conference theme of work/life balance will be addressed by suggesting that PowerPoint-based content can be maintained in a systematic way that will progressively evolve while keeping stress manageable. More details will be published here after the conference. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Progressive reveal animations for complex technical figures

Educators and scientists are often confronted with a challenge. Technical information is a critical part of the presentation, but the amount of information might overwhelm the audience. A solution for these situations is to walk the audience through a complex diagram with a series of on-click animations that direct audience attention to the relevant parts of the slide.

The following example is a dark adaptation curve that illustrates how sensitivity to low light conditions increases over time. The plot shows a light energy threshold (the smallest amount of light that can be seen) as a function of time. The interpretation of the different plot components is progressively revealed to point out key features.


(If you're interested in dark adapation, here is the original PowerPoint file.)

Some subtle features are worthy of further consideration. This slide has no additional text to interfere with or distract from the graph comprehension. Second, the graph labels are color coded to match the relevant parts of the curve and linked with the arrow. This associates the labels and the relevant parts of the curve via the Gestalt laws of similar and connectedness. Finally, the progression of reveal starts at the beginning of dark adaptation on the left, then follows the changes over time by working towards the right. This sequence follows the natural time course of dark adaptation.

This carefully direction of attention should (hopefully!) help to make a complex technical figure more accessible to the audience.

Source: Hecht, S., Haig, C., & Chase, A. M. (1937). The influence of light adaptation on subsequent dark adaptation of the eye. The Journal of General Physiology20(6), 831-850. 

License: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Neil DeGrasse Tyson Quote on Being an Educator

Richard Dawkins has a great quote from Neil DeGrasse Tyson that has an important insight into being a great educator. The context is that Dawkins has just given a critical presentation based upon impeccable facts. DeGrasse Tyson was concerned about the style of the presentation, so he offered the following constructive criticism.
Being an educator is not only getting the truth right, but there's got to be an act of persuasion in there as well. Persuasion isn't always 'Here's the facts, you are either an idiot or you're not.' It's 'Here's the facts, and here is a sensitivity to your state of mind.' And it's the facts plus the sensitivity, when convolved together, creates impact.  p. 262
This combination of facts plus audience sensitivity is an excellent approach to take for every presentation.

Source: Dawkins, R. (2015). A brief candle in the dark: My life in science. Harper Collins, New York