Slideshare and “Presentation Design Tennis” in an online course

Image representing SlideShare as depicted in C...

Image via CrunchBase

SlideShare is an important part of the online course that I am teaching this semester.  Most weeks, I’ve created a short (3-6 minute) slidecast to introduce the topic for the week and draw attention to the week’s assignments.  If you are interested, you can view my presentations by visting my slidespace.   I’ve also referred students to other, better, slideshows and slidecasts for more in-depth information on certain topics, but the most significant use of slideshare is yet to come.

The Project

My students are working on a Google Presentation on Internet Safety.  When it is complete, I’ll export to PowerPoint and then upload it to SlideShare and turn it into a slidecast.  The project was inspired by Presentation Design Tennis.  Students took turns adding slides to the presentation.  Each student was responsible for creating two slides in the presentation, and writing the accompanying narration.  Currently, my students are editing their presentation.

I had several instructional objectives for this project.

  1. My course is an instructional technology class and I try to give my students exposure to as many tools as possible.  This project involves using several tools, including Google Presentation, Slideshare, and PowerPoint.
  2. The course includes a unit on internet safety.  Because the content of the presentation was “Internet Safety”, my students had to reflect on required readings and activities on internet safety in order to contribute to the class presentation.
  3. The course also includes a unit on copyright.  Because I required to cite sources and to use images to communicate their messages, creating the presentation slides gave students gave students the opportunity to practice complying with copyright law  and fair use guidelines.
  4. Many of my students enroll in my course equating the words “instructional technology” with “PowerPoint presentation”.  My course supervisor takes a dim view of PowerPoint presentations in the classroom and I tend to agree with him; PowerPoint presentations are appropriate for lecture based classrooms and I am biased against lecture based classrooms.  However, I am also a realist.  The majority of my students are going to lecture with a PowerPoint presentation at least some of the time.  If they are going to lecture with PowerPoint, at least I can help them create slightly better PowerPoint presentations.

Presentation Design Tennis has been a learning experience for myself as well as my students.  While I instructed students to communicate only one idea per slide and to minimize the amount of text used, most of the slides in the presentation were crammed with lines of text, sometimes bulleted, sometimes not.  Also, despite encouraging students to use the customized search engine provided by, many students used copyrighted images.  The first round of presentation tennis was extremely frustrating for me to watch.  However, the students seem grateful for the feedback that I have given and I have adjusted the syllabus to allow students additional time to edit their slides and improve the presentation.  We now have discussions on the Ning networks for students to provide feedback on individual slide design, copyright compliance, and overall presentation flow.  Some of the threads were suggested by students themselves.  Not everyone has contributed to these discussions yet (the deadline is this evening), but the early contributions indicate that some significant learning has taken place.

Next time

When I try this again, I give students more time to work on the presentation tennis project.  I also plan to introduce the project differently.  I will find or create several short presentations of varying quality, but covering essentially the same content.  I’ll embed these examples in the course wiki and engage students in a discussion of the characteristics of effective presentations.  We won’t set out to create our own presentation until we’ve reviewed some guidelines on creating effective presentations.  Here are some of the presentations that I’ve found that give advice on creating presentations:

Does anyone else have suggestions for resources that could help my students?

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About Kimberly McCollum

I'm a former middle and high school science teacher and current stay at home mom.
This entry was posted in Graduate Work, Teaching and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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