In online learning contexts, you can use presentation software to deliver lectures, demonstrations, or other support materials.
You can record live sessions allowing people the chance to revisit content if they missed the live session, or when they’re revising.
You can then place the recording online, for students to interact with at any time.
Alternative presentation tools
Some presentation technologies encourage the traditional approach of the 'expert' teacher providing the content and being in control of when and how things are presented. These kinds of tools, such as Microsoft PowerPoint and Apple Keynote, do not aim to be collaborative but can, nonetheless, be used by students to work collaboratively.
Prezi or emaze are examples of a more dynamic presentation tool. Presentations in different formats can be shared through social networking services like SlideShare and blogs, and you can upload video and audio to YouTube and Vimeo.
Some open source products like Xerte toolkits can combine a range of benefits allowing you to create presentational slides alongside quizzes, videos or embedded collaboration tools like Padlet, Google documents or other online services.
Presenting live content
Webinar software offers ways to present content in a live context, and incorporate video, chat, interactive whiteboards and webtours. You can record these and give them to non-attendees. Webinars can feel quite intimate and work well for small numbers of people, but can also be open to much larger groups.
Your institution may have already invested in webinar software and have guides on how to use it.
Graphics and more complex forms of media
Online learning can incorporate a range of content, from more traditional material such as text, graphics, screencasts and diagrams which are relatively easy to produce. More complex forms of media such as audio, video, timelines, and animations may help to engage students and get them interacting with the materials.
Individual teachers or central services can produce materials in these various formats, but whoever produces the content will need appropriate skills, resources and preparation time. If any materials are made freely available on the web, you must also consider branding and licensing; you will need incorporate this into your institutional policies.
Using open software
The increasing availability of free open software to develop multimedia content, such as GIMP (image manipulation) and Audacity (digital audio editor) has transformed opportunities for students to present their own content in engaging and imaginative ways.
Other open source tools like Xerte toolkits, Mahara and Moodle allow standalone multimedia like images, video and audio to be easily embedded into resources alongside quizzes and explanations. Make sure that staff creating multimedia also summarise the key teaching points that the resources illustrate so they don’t create inadvertent barriers for vision or hearing impaired students.
Both staff and students can use these tools to create, share and remix a wide range of formats. Students can also contribute up-to-date tutorials and guidance on these technologies for other students.
In an open class on digital storytelling at University of Mary Washington in the US, students contributed a range of tutorials, assignment briefs and guidance for other students on open blogs. The course has built an ongoing collection of these, all of which are given an open licence, such as this example on making videos.1
Creating and sharing multimedia
Animations in particular can present complex information in an engaging way, and are often used in engineering and the natural sciences to demonstrate systems and mechanisms. They can also capture and simulate personal interactions, such as an example from Manchester Metropolitan University, who used GoAnimate with students on social care placements.2
Multimedia content is becoming easier to create and share through a range of presentation methods and is a key component of online learning. We recommend that your institution develops clear policies for staff to explain how to produce content and adopt them during learning activities.
Staff need appropriate support and training around the pedagogic benefits, technical capabilities and legal aspects of the technologies that your institution adopts.
|Barriers||What you can do|
|Staff find it difficult to adapt existing content into new formats.||Provide staff engagement and development activities|
|Adopt institutional approaches and centralised production support services.|
|Costs of creating more interactive content.||Fund centralised support teams to generate cost-effective content|
|Consider developing content for use across more than one course or subject discipline|
Adopt approaches for student developed content and create banks for future courses
Use template driven tools (for example Xerte toolkits) that allow non-specialist staff with minimal IT skills to create interactive content.
- 1 Digital storytelling course: the ds106 guide to making video - http://ds106.us/handbook/tools/video/
- 2 Communicating through animation in social care - http://digitalstudent.jiscinvolve.org/wp/files/2015/01/DS29-Communicatin...