An interesting thing happened this week. Our social studies teacher gave the eighth grade students the opportunity to share what they learned about World War I through a slide presentation. They used Open Office Impress on the tablets for the first time.
We've been learning to use PowerPoint since the students were in the fourth grade. I did not tell the students how to get to Impress on the tablets. They found the program, learned how to use it, and created their presentation.
I debriefed one of the two classes of students yesterday. They shared their thoughts on the program. They felt it was harder to use than PowerPoint. They had to do a lot of digging through the menus to find what they were looking for. They found the design templates and were disappointed in finding only three.
This is a success. They knew enough about what they wanted to do to make Impress work for them.
I spoke with the teacher and asked her to informally keep a tally of how many students flooded the screen with text versus presentations heavy on images. I haven't found out what she saw, but got informal feedback from my son. He was surprised that she didn't "say" that the slides should be light on text/ heavy on images and talking. He was surprised that she told them afterwards that the slides had too much text overall.
I need to have a look at the presentations and then start being more emphatic when I explain why we create slides as we do in computer class. I want them to be aware that they need to make this the format for all slide presentations.
I was going to show them Death by PowerPoint by Don McMillan, but then I found a new version by the same comedian. It is called Doctor Don - PowerPoint Therapist. MySpace is one of the few things blocked at school and I am happy to see that Zamzar was able to convert the file.
Doctor Don - Powerpoint Therapist
I think I am going to have the eighth grade make a student response project. The idea is just forming in my brain right now, but I will give them the option to create a video or audio podcast, a PowerPoint, graphic image, or mini poster in Word. I'll come back later to document how it all turns out.
I have to look at Impress on the tablets at school on Monday. There are more than three layouts on my Mac. I wonder if I need to update Open Office on the XP machines. Giving it a quick test run, it seems very intuitive after having used PowerPoint for years.