June 7, 2013, 11:00 am
[This is a guest post by Kimon Keramidas, Assistant Professor and Director for the Digital Media Lab at the Bard Graduate Center. Kimon teaches about the design and material culture of technology and is tasked with integrating and implementing digital media within the curricular and research goals of faculty and students. He also leads the development of digital media and interactives for the BGC's Focus Gallery exhibitions. Find him online at http://kimonkeramidas.net and follow him on Twitter at @kimonizer.--@BC]
One of my favorite parts of ProfHacker is the idea of subtly hacking tools for educational purposes. By subtle hacking I mean not changing the code or structure of a tool, but using it for a purpose it may not have been originally intended for. One tool that I have found is readily hackable in this sense is Prezi. (Editors: See our previous posts covering how…
May 20, 2013, 11:00 am
Now that I do all my conference travel with only an iPad, I’ve been looking for better solutions to creating presentations and content while on the road. One of the most interesting of these is the recently released free app Flowboard. The free storage includes 250 MB, which seems like enough for most projects, but there is a premium for more storage. Unfortunately Flowboard requires iOS 6 and an iPad, but it creates presentations that are published through its platform and easily viewed on the web, rather like Prezi.
Essentially, Flowboard is a streamlined tool for creating linear presentations, galleries, or magazine-like content with internal and external links, text, images and video. It’s similar to PowerPoint but with fewer options, and it eliminates some of my least favorite things that show up in PowerPoints: bullet points, tables, and random flashy animation. The Flowboard…
May 1, 2013, 8:00 am
Despite the endorsement of fellow ProfHackers Ethan (in “Challenging the Presentation Paradigm”) and Anastasia (in “Revising Prezi for Presentations”), I’ve long been a Prezi skeptic. After seeing several Prezis full of wheeling and zooming, I concluded it was merely a gimmick: no better than our national fascination with star wipes and spinning slides in the early days of Powerpoint. I haven’t entirely changed in that opinion. Prezi doesn’t benefit all presentations; it can be simply a gimmicky way to present material that would be perfectly well-served by Powerpoint or Keynote.
Recently, however, a conversation on Twitter with fellow ProfHacker Adeline Koh and ProfHacker guest writer Lisa Rhody convinced me to give Prezi another look. We discussed the kinds of material that is well-served by Prezi’s open canvas format. In particular, Lisa and Adeline argued that Prezi works very…
February 26, 2013, 8:00 am
Last week I introduced a way to create Prezi-style “infinite canvas” style slide presentations written in plain text with markdown formatting. I used a free command line utility called Mdpress which takes your markdown text file and transforms it into a slideshow that can be shown using any modern browser. It also allows you to add the pan, scale, and rotation effects of Prezi through its support of something called Impress.js.
Though I went through the basic steps last week, I didn’t offer any concrete example. Today I offer you a simple example and two ways to improve it. Find the raw markdown text for my presentation here: mypres1.md
Now following my directions from last week, I saved this file and ran mdpress. Since I had a image for my first slide, I put the image folder with the appropriate image inside the folder that was created. The result is a slideshow that looks like…
January 25, 2013, 11:00 am
I gave a presentation at a recent conference in which I did not use presentation software to advance from one slide to the next but instead demonstrated a few things about setting up and using WordPress for teaching and learning. There was no podium, so I couldn’t just stand in front of my computer and use the keyboard and mouse. Instead, I put my laptop (hooked up to the projector) on a nearby table and used an app on my iPhone to control the computer. After my presentation, a few people came up to me to ask what I was using, and I thought it might be a good idea to share the answer in a ProfHacker post.
The app in question? MobileMouse Pro, available for iOS ($1.99, $2.99 for iPad version) and for Android ($2.99). There’s also a free version (for both iOS and Android) but its features are limited.
Essentially, MobileMouse Pro turns your smartphone into a trackpad and keyboard for…
November 2, 2012, 11:01 am
As I’ve written about before on ProfHacker, I am striving to go paperless at conferences and in the classroom. Aside from saving paper, I simply prefer carrying less with me wherever I go. An iPad or other tablet makes this increasingly possible, but there’s one use for the iPad at conferences and in the classroom that I’ve consistently been disappointed by: running presentations from the iPad.
It’s a breeze to hook up the iPad to a projector with a VGA or HDMI connector, and I love the way the iPad 2 and newer mirrors itself on an external screen. But I always run into the same problems trying to show a PowerPoint deck from the iPad (I work primarily on a Windows PC, so Keynote isn’t an appealing option, especially with a $9.99 price tag).
The first problem is inconsistent formatting of imported slideshows when I use Office suite-type apps like Office2 HD. I can work around…
June 28, 2012, 11:00 am
With summer conference season well underway, I’ve been preparing a number of presentations. There are lots of options for presentation tools and techniques, but recently I’ve been relying on Prezi. When Prezi was a new presentation tool, Ethan examined the early version for its possibility to challenge the way we give presentations. The first version was fairly limited, with preset color palettes ranging from the garish to the bland and aggravatingly fussy process for arranging content. However, the platform’s recent extensions make Prezi worth a second look.
If it’s been a while since you looked at Prezi, one of the best features added since the tool’s release is the ability to edit the CSS. The “Colors and Styles” options incorporates both a quick interface for choosing colors for each of the main Prezi interface elements and text and the ability to dive right into the stylesheet….
March 13, 2012, 11:00 am
One of the great things about laptops is that you can have your work environment with you wherever you go. This portable environment is especially helpful if you’re making a presentation, as you will surely know if you’ve ever had to do a talk using another computer. Of course, using your own computer for a presentation comes with a price: other people will almost certainly get a glimpse of exactly how unorganized your desktop is.
I recently came across a great little tool in the Mac App Store for fixing this problem. Camouflage is a simple program that does more or less what it’s name implies: hides all the items on your desktop. Camouflage lives in the menu bar; simply by clicking on it and choosing “Hide Icons,” you too can have the sort of desktop that could impress the aesthetes over at Minimal Mac. If you’re a fan of keyboard shortcuts, you’ll be happy to know that you can…
June 29, 2011, 8:00 am
[This is a guest post by Caro Pinto, the John Hay Whitney Family Papers Processing Archivist at Yale University Library. Follow her on Twitter at @caropinto.--@jbj]
An Archivist Walks into a Classroom…
Many archivists spend their professional lives working in basements preparing diaries, letters, and photographs for use by students and faculty. Indeed, arrangement and description of such materials represents the bulk of my work as an archivist, but I also spend time in classrooms teaching students how to discover and evaluate all kinds of information. Archivists do not usually find themselves in the classroom, but I am lucky enough to be an archivist who works directly with students and faculty.
And why not? Archivists have at their disposal great props for teaching , making it easy to demonstrate and not just talk about materials from collections of manuscripts, records, and…
April 12, 2011, 8:00 am
Whenever you are creating content for mass consumption (be it students, co-workers, or the Web), you should consider the accessibility of what you are creating. For example, if your content has audio, have you created a transcript or captions so that deaf people can access it? If your content has important visual information, have you formatted this information in a way that is compatible with the assistive technology used by people who are blind or have low vision?
Microsoft Office files are the predominant document types handled by individuals in both academia and the corporate world. Files with .doc/docx, .ppt/pptx, and .xls/xlsx are a proprietary format, so how can you guarantee the accessibility of these files when sharing with others? As it turns out, the newest versions of Office are accessibility-friendly, allowing you to create accessible content. Furthermore, these versions …