What do you think about Google Docs Presentations?

26 10 2012

Google Docs Documents and Google Docs Spreadsheets are tools that I use a lot of the time for collaborative working. There are things that could be improved but as free tools I don’t expect them to be as comprehensive as a paid version of Microsoft Office. Specifically I like:

  • able to have multiple simultaneous editors with clear colour indicators during the editing process
  • ease of access on multiple devices including options for collaborators without a Google account
  • ease of use in terms of the interface and the ability to download in different file formats

So I guess I had high hopes for Google Docs Presentations (I have written about this before here: Google Docs presentations reconsidered).

Normally I do a Prezi presentation, but in this case a PowerPoint was required and because three of us in disparate locations were collaborating I thought it worth trying Google Docs Presentations. These were the issues:

  • I uploaded an existing PowerPoint file – there were formatting issues – some images didn’t import, 1 slide had an animation which no longer worked
  • I didn’t find the user interface as intuitive as Microsoft PowerPoint which slowed me down
  • I didn’t find there were enough advanced features which made me appreciate Microsoft PowerPoint more as I have obviously just become used to certain functions e.g. image formatting features
  • when uploading a YouTube clip a screenshot appeared that you had no choice over and in one case was extremely poor resolution; once downloaded the link to YouTube was lost
  • when I tried to download a Presentation as an editable file and open in PowerPoint it came up with error messages – these error messages repeated several times although in the end I was able to open the file (I tried this both with Presentations started from scratch in Google Docs and ones I had uploaded)

How did we resolve these issues? Well we couldn’t meet up so in the end we used Dropbox to transfer versions of PowerPoint between us – much faster and easier. Finally we also used Dropbox to share the PowerPoint (as it was too large a file size) with the conference organiser.

Please share your experiences of using Google Docs Presentations, maybe there are some secrets to using it properly that I am missing out on? or maybe not?

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Is Prezi like marmite?

22 10 2012

Result from Google Search for Marmite

Do people either love or hate Prezi?

Personally, I love Prezi (and I love Marmite), but the point of a presentation is the audience and so I care about what other people think. Two different comments about the same Prezi I gave recently:

1. I hope there won’t be too much pointless zooming, rotating and jumping around the screen.

2. After all the PowerPoints finally a Prezi!

The blog post Prezi and ‘Death by motion-sickness’ from January has also led me to this reflection. See also this blog post I just discovered titled Prezi, the Marmite of presentation tools from way back in October 2010.

Exploring the analogy with Marmite a little bit further. I guess that you could say Marmite comes in different containers for different purposes, from plastic squeezable…

Squeezy Marmite

… to sterling silver lidded glass pots of Marmite.

I am thinking both of how PowerPoint and Prezi can be used for different purposes (see also these comments by a Learning Technologist) and by extension, how Prezi can be adapted for different purposes.

Currently I use Prezi for:

So do you love or hate Prezi? and if you use Prezi – how do you use it?





Create Curate Collaborate! at #uoblt12

26 07 2012

We were invited to present at the University of Brighton Learning and Teaching Conference 2012 (#uoblt12), 13th July, due to Jac Cattaneo’s connection (Northbrook College is affiliated to the University of Brighton). The theme for the conference was ‘Connectivity: linking the learning community’ and in fitting with the theme all three of us managed to deliver a joint presentation that was crafted both online, with telephone calls and the occasional meeting.

Checkland building, University of Brighton. Photo: MTG

Delegates entered the room to the sound of Johnny Cash’s ‘I Walk the Line’ LP. They were asked to select an object and accompanying postcard from Jac’s amazing and inspiring collection:

Items from the collection of Jac Cattaneo. Photo: MTG

The overarching framework for the session was purposefully presented within a PowerPoint; this was in order to avoid ‘Prezi’ overload!

After the background to the project, Curtis performed his Prezi poem: ‘Prezi Hesi Tate‘ and talked about some of the theories and writings that had inspired our practice.

Jac led a group activity on free writing using the objects and postcards. I had pre-prepared a Prezi with the images of the objects so when a number of them were selected by the audience I was able to type up the phrases into a live Prezi and create the group’s collaborative ‘found’ Prezi poem. Curtis selected a member of the audience to perform the poem and this worked really well.

We had lots of positive feedback on the session from attendees as well as useful discussion about Prezi and Creative Writing. Next steps: to write-up the final report, due 14th September 2012.





When PowerPoint is good

14 01 2012

To be honest, I am starting to get nostalgic for PowerPoint. I subscribe to the school of thought that it is the presenter not the tool that makes it a good presentation. Although I don’t discount the role some tools play in creating the presentation e.g. mindmapping and Prezi allowing certain patterns of thinking, whereas PowerPoint is a linear mode of thinking (more on this to follow). I also still agree with an earlier blog post that it is ‘horses for courses‘.

In researching about Prezi, I have mentioned thewikiman already (blog post, November 2011), however I haven’t mentioned that I am a fan of his PowerPoint presentations, available via SlideShare. My favourite two are below:

Stop Breaking the Basic Rules of Presenting

How to use Prezi and win: thewikiman’s 10 top tips to make a good one

The only problem with doing learning resources on Prezi is that it updates so frequently that things get out of date really quickly. Or to look at it positively, Prezi is always improving and responding to user feedback. I have been working on a short guide for the Create Curate Collaborate! project but keep hesitating about when to complete it as it could be out-of-date quite quickly, or I could just re-issue new versions as Prezi do with their learning materials (see blog post with Prezi learning links).





Google Docs presentations reconsidered

6 01 2012

When I first started researching presentation tools, one of the first I looked at was Google Docs presentations. Despite one impressive animation created using the tool (Google Demo Slam: Epic Docs Animation), I discounted it as it seemed to have less functionality than PowerPoint and was also a linear tool i.e. it didn’t really have anything special to offer IMO.

Google presentations upgraded in October (see blog posts under ‘Links’), and now has more features, including:

  • Transitions to move between slides with simple fades or spicier 3D effects
  • Animations to add emphasis or to make your slides more playful
  • New themes to create beautiful presentations with distinct visual styles
  • Drawings to build new designs, layouts, and flowcharts within a presentation
  • Rich tables with merged cells and more options for adding style to your data

(Ref: ‘A fresh start for Google presentations‘)

What is interesting about these features is that they are apparently some of the most requested by users. Questions:

  • Who are these users? what kind of demographic/background? how do they use Google Docs?
  • Why did they choose these features? To make Google presentations more like PowerPoint? Delibrately or subconsciously?
  • How did Google Docs select the ‘most wanted’ features?

The improved collaborative feature is what interests me the most; now character-by-character collaboration is possible, akin to that previously offered in Google Docs documents. Not only does this bring presentations up to the standard of the other Google Docs, but it also poses a challenge to Prezi as it could be argued that Google Docs is more powerful for collaboration than Prezi. I will be watching the development of Google Docs presentations and Prezi with interest.

Links





Minute Madness

14 12 2011

This post is about lessons learned from my first experience of ‘minute madness’ – a one minute presentation given in a group of about 30 people last week at the International Digital Curation Conference (IDCC).

Lessons Learned

  • 60 seconds is a surprisingly long time – next time I would think of it in terms of 3 x 20 seconds (i.e. 3 pecha kucha slides)
  • the best PowerPoint slides were simple –  even though people normally read PowerPoint slides whilst presenters are talking, the 1-minute focuses much more on the presenter and much less on the slide
  • include an image and key contact detail e.g. URL or email address on the slide
  • trying to get your point across in 1 minute means the focus is not on the information but rather on: 1. a hook OR something crazy to grab attention and be memorable – the stranger the better; 2. remembering to give your contact details




Implications of the potential proliferation of tablet technology

28 09 2011

Twitter is abuzz with the excitement of the pending release of Amazon’s new tablet device to rival the iPad.

An excellent summary of the news story is available via the Chicago Tribune’s website, referencing The Wall Street Journal 6:10 a.m. CDT, September 28, 2011: ‘Amazon unveiling new tablet to challenge iPad today

I would like to allocate some time to look into the nature of tablet devices and to explore how an increase in both awareness and use of such hardware may impact on use of presentation technology and presentation style/approach. Some questions I am pondering:

  • Would an increase in the use of tablet devices by the general population effect the expectations of students or audiences?
  • Would they expect a greater level of interactivity during presentations? For example through using their own tablet devices?
  • For presenters, will they more noticeably start to break away from using PowerPoint if they have greater options and control in the use of personal or institutional tablet devices? For example by using apps such as Prezi for iPad or Keynote for iPad?