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Simplifying the Design Process- One Canva at a Time

To all designers and creators: have you ever opened Photoshop, PowerPoint, Word, or even social media sites and asked yourself now what? How about those who fear the Adobe Suite or even Microsoft Office?

Canva, a design app, simplifies creating posters, flyers, presentations, business cards, Facebook covers- you name it. With a selection of professional, pre-designed graphics and stock photos to choose from, you can finish a project within minutes. Be aware that most stock photos have Canva watermarks or you can pay $1 to omit it.

Most of the design process is drag-and-drop. Choose what background, layout, and text you want in your project, then fill in the blanks. Customizing their templates is no problem either. Click on an object to move it, change the color, edit the text, or delete it.

Designs and graphics are great to embellish presentations- especially “PowerPoint-esque” ones. They catch audience’s attention and intrigue listeners. Be aware though, too much text and over the top graphics can just as easily detract your audience. Learn your medium before giving a presentation.

Below are examples of posters we made in less than five minutes:

UWB Learning Tech LT Mission

What can you create on Canva?

Can Gaming Become Higher Education’s Future?

We’ve heard of gaming being integrated in primary school, but what about higher education? According to studies conducted by Gallup, the levels of student engagement fades the longer they stay in school. Engagement levels drop from 76% in elementary school to 44% in high school.

EdTech revealed in a recent article that levels of engagement has the potential to increase if colleges and universities integrate games into the classroom. Games are developed to create emotions of joy, pride, creativity, and curiosity just to name a few. It makes sense to want to integrate gaming in higher education- school is designed to be competitive just like a game. But if students fail they don’t have positive emotional resilience like gamers do, EdTech claims.

Read More!

Tips for Effectively Teaching with Your Multimedia Presentation

In a recent post on the SlideShare blog, Olivia Mitchell gave some helpful tips on giving an effective, informative presentation with slideshow tools. These days, there are may different tools available to create and present a slideshow– SlideShare, PowerPoint, and Prezi, to name a few big ones. However, some still struggle with creating an engaging, effective presentation that really gets across to their audience. Mitchell explains that a presentation works best if it combines g00d graphic design as well as good instructional design. In other words, the right combination of information and visual appeal presented in the correct way. Below are four specific tips she offers, to get you started with making any slideshow presentation better:

  1. “Use words and graphics” – it’s very important to use a good mix of text and graphics. The fact is, humans enjoy visuals. Don’t give a presentation full of text that you will at some point review orally anyways. Use a picture or graph to show information whenever you can. Of course, you shouldn’t just use graphics either. Give your audience a little text to guide them through points or present hard facts to them.
  2. “Don’t use pictures which aren’t 100% conceptually relevant” – when you use graphics that aren’t relevant to the presentation, you are sending your audience an invitation to get off track. Rather than paying attention to the information you are currently presenting, they’ll probably be more focused on figuring out what the image has to do with your slide’s content. Mitchell explains that “this tends to happen when you know you should add a picture but can’t find quite the right one – so you settle for something less”. Make sure the picture you choose is both relevant and visually interesting to help your audience digest information more smoothly.
  3. “Present words as audio rather than onscreen text” – depending on which slideshow tool you are using, you may have the option to add audio to your slides. According to the post, 64 percent of students found presentations that used graphics with audio more effective than presentations that used graphics with text. This is a great chance to add personality to your presentation, but it’s important you also cut down on the amount of text you put onscreen–you don’t want to give the audience too much information at once. Try using SlideCasts with SlideShare, or adding narration to your PowerPoint.
  4. “Use a ‘virtual coach'” – create a “host” for your presentation that the audience can be guided by. Keep your guide consistent, and check back with them after every group of slides or big points. Mitchell suggests that the presentation may feel more like a conversation to audience members this way.

Here is a great example of an effective text-and-visual presentation:

Historypin Lets You Search and Pin Historical Photos

Historypin is a site that works in collaboration with Google Maps to map historical photos from all around the world. The user can post their own photos to the map or explore the ones which are already on the site. On Historypin, you can search by area, subject, and even time period.

Not only does the map let you know the area in which the photo was taken, but the user can also compare the photo to a modern-day satellite image of the area. There are also various other helpful tools, including tours- a tool which allows the user to be guided through a sequence of photos that tell a story. Overall, Historypin seems like an exciting tool that could be used for a variety of subjects. For more information, check out the video from Historypin’s site below:

Google Plus in the Classroom

In case you missed it, Google has announced that they will be releasing their own social networking site. The project, which is called Google+, is currently available on an invitation-only basis and is not yet available to the public. Still, many people have been able to try it and are saying Google+ could be a very useful tool in education.

A Wired Campus article by Jeff Young highlights the following key features on Google+, which may be beneficial to both students and faculty:

  • Google+ allows “selective sharing”, meaning that users can choose which circles of friends they would like to share specific content with. This feature could come in handy when professors would like to add their students as friends, but are concerned with respecting their privacy or personal lives.
  • Friend circles could also work as small group communication, possibly for class projects.
  • Google+ “hangouts” (casual video conferencing) can be used in place of office hours or face-to-face tutoring.
  • One assistant professor at UT Dallas even predicts that Google+ may be an alternative to the traditional LMS.

It’s hard to tell exactly what Google+ has in store for education. Since the social networking site is still in the developing stages, it may take some time before it’s widely used in the classroom. The site is expected to be released for public use on or before July 31st, 2011.