Monday, March 22, 2021

Using Annotation Tools to Increase Interest During Online Presentations

Like many educators, my pandemic classroom presentations have been split between in-person, classroom students and students who are watching online through video technology. The challenge is that interacting with the online audience is much harder than the classroom. My technology shares the screen (a PowerPoint presentation), but does not provide a live video during the presentation when the screen is shared. Unfortunately, watching a PowerPoint presentation with just a voice is a bit dull. 

An easy way to make the online presentations a bit more interesting is to use the annotation tools during the presentation. The tools are used to add or mark-up the existing presentation. The online students get to watch the presentation growing in a more dynamic way. It's like turning the presentation into a basic chalkboard, a time-tested teaching tool.  

The annotation tools are available by hovering the mouse over the lower left corner of the presentation. These features can also be accessed by keystrokes: control-p for pen and control-l for laser pointer. Here's the pop-up menu:  

Marking up the slides has been fun and dynamic when done live. On this slide, I added that a stage-based theory of human growth has step-like qualities by drawing the following on the screen with the mouse while I'm talking. 

The annotated slides can be saved, exported to a pdf file, and shared with students. 

A related issue is that the people watching a shared computer screen at home can't see a laser pointer on the classroom screen. So, I've stopped using the laser pointer in my wireless presentation remote. Instead, the PowerPoint laser pointer is used so everyone - home and classroom - can see it. 

These built-in features are an easy way to bring at least a tiny bit of extra life to a static, shared screen presentation. They are very useful, yet underappreciated. Give it a try in your next online presentation. 


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