Untitled #3 – But Mainly Rambling on Powerpoint

What do you do when you don’t know what title to give a blog post? You search your own blog for “Untitled” and see how many other “Untitled” posts you have and then decide to just tack on a number. And a subtitle.

Movies to blog about soon (I hope):

  • Catching Fire
  • Cuak
  • Robocop

But I can’t blog about them now because I need to do a quiz and write an essay for the Coursera course I’m following – Introduction to Teaching and Learning. Thankfully, it is now in the final week. It has been a drag. Four video lectures a week (about 15 minutes each), and I’ve found it extremely difficult to pay attention to the videos. They put me to sleep. I have to multitask and do something else while the video plays otherwise I will almost certainly find myself dozing or at least yawning within 5 minutes. I would have quit it after the first week except that I’d put it into my goal-setting form (“complete one related external online course” or something like that) so I have to do at least one this year or it wouldn’t look very good in my performance review. (I can feel the strain of that KPI thing intensifying already…).

It probably doesn’t help that I only get to watch these videos in the evening or night after I’m back from work and my mind is not at all interested in doing more work. The topic is also not the most fascinating thing in the world to me so it’s even harder to feel interested and to pay attention to the video lectures. In addition, the slides are visually boring. Perhaps at the root of it all is really the facts that it’s not a topic of extreme interest to me, and that I am a visual person; boring visuals combined with less-than-riveting subject means you lose my interest really really fast. Like so:

The slides are boring and unappealing. They’re not outright ugly, but they’re just… bland. It’s not that they used a Powerpoint template – I use Powerpoint templates too since I really don’t have the time to create different templates for every topic. But the slides just didn’t look lively or truly pleasing to the eye. For my own slides, if using a default template, I often change the colour scheme to shake things up or to make it look more lively. And then at other times I feel like I really should create my own layouts so that it won’t be so dull (and because when it comes to topics like “Design Principles” I feel I have to create my own custom layouts to reflect the topic). This is what some of my slides look like:

Aren’t they pretty? :P Or at least more brightly-coloured…
(All of the above are layouts I created, except for the ninth one, which is one of Powerpoint’s default templates, but with a custom colour scheme. I suppose it helps that I naturally tend towards art and design so it’s sometimes even fun for me to create slides for classes. Sometimes. haha)

I must admit that I also sometimes find it fun to condense a very wordy slide into a very brief one for class. I think my preference for getting straight to the point facilitates this. (Though it doesn’t help at all when writing things like a Master’s thesis that requires 10,000 words or more…)

It used to be really difficult for me to remember everything that I’d removed from the slide. THEN… about a month ago, I discovered how to use Powerpoint’s “Presenter View.” I knew it existed, but I didn’t know how to get it to work. But I fiddled around with some settings on my work laptop and found the key to making it work. So yaaaaay, no more strenuous memorising! I can now see all my detailed notes in Presenter view, but the students see the abbreviated version. I never liked seeing people just read off slides – and I mean read everything off the slides. As my mother says, if the presenter does that, why should the audience listen to the presenter? We can just read the slides ourselves. “Here, take the slides and go home and read them yourselves. Class dismissed!” I make it a point to find ways to cut down the number of words in a slide that I present in class. That way they almost have to listen to me because otherwise all you get is the main point and nothing else. *secret evil scheme* There are occasions when I can’t, of course; certain definitions or quotes simply can’t be shortened any further.

*yawn* Ok. Back to work…

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