What’s the best way to present content to engage students? Any teacher will tell you that is a constant challenge when it seems there is always so much to cram in and only so little of a students’ attention span available. Most of us are not blockbuster filmmakers or Netflix stars, and love the discipline we are teaching just because. Fortunately, there are some technology tools available to help us remain immersed in our own content world as experts, while packaging our content in visually appealing, smart phone friendly formats.
Following are a few of the tools I have used and recommend adding to your repertoire. There are many more available, but these have passed my informal tired teacher test of having simple directions, do-over ability, reliability over the years, and device agnostic. Most importantly, they are designed to grab and keep attention, not just to communicate information.
- Haiku Deck (www.haikudeck.com): In many ways Haiku functions like PowerPoint, with the ability to select different layouts, add notes, hyperlinks, etc… What sets it apart in my opinion is simple integration with image repositories such as the National Gallery of Art set up as background images, and text amount limitations on slides to prevent word overkill. Bonus-presentations can be shared to social media or downloaded as .pptx files.
- Issuu (https://issuu.com/): Like the page-turning aspects of magazines and books? You can easily upload pdf and other files into Issuu, and the technology does all the work for you to create a digital magazine. Click here for a blast from the Ferris past. Click here for my first attempt at a photo journal on education and effects on individuals and our country’s spending.
- Adobe Spark (https://spark.adobe.com/sp/): If you want to create a narrated presentation, including the ability to add background music, images, and screenshots, but don’t want to spend a lot of time or worry about editing, Adobe Spark is your go-to tool. My favorite part is the 30 second recording limitation on each slide–what a great reminder to ensure presentation flow!
4. Book Creator (https://bookcreator.com) Although the examples are categorized for k-12, this tool is applicable for higher ed online teachers in any discipline. Similar to Issuu.com, Book Creator allows you to upload from traditional files such as a Word doc. It doesn’t stop there, and makes it easy to add audio recordings, images, hyperlinks and more for you to curate your own book for a unit or module. Students can use it easily too. Here is a fun sample from a graphics arts class.