(This post is for anyone, of course, but most relevant to teachers, IMHO)
Plenty of school projects call for students to collaborate, and to present in front of the class, and a slide presentation is a pretty common corollary. But we don’t call it a ‘slide presentation’, do we? No, we call it a PowerPoint.
Powerpoint was (and maybe still is) the dominant product in that category of software for so long, the brand has become the product. We don’t use facial tissues, we use Kleenex. No air-tight, locking plastic bags, we use Ziplocs. And no digital slide presentations, we use PowerPoint.
Totally understandable how that product became so entrenched, but with so many people (especially students) choosing alternatives to what, to this point in time, we could consider ‘traditional computing’ - where traditional computing would typically be a desktop computer with the MS operating system and the suite of MS Office tools - it’s time to disassociate the words ‘Presentation’ and “PowerPoint’
Google Presentations vs. MS PowerPoint
Mobile technology is clearly becoming the choice for many young people, and expecting them to all have access to the proprietary software that was common with traditional computing is, perhaps, a stretch. How many of us - teachers and parents alike - have been faced with the situation of a student/child being unable to complete a project because they don’t have PowerPoint on their home computer (or Word or Excel, for that matter) and didn’t finish in class or at the library? Frustrating, to say the least.
But that was an acceptable frustration 5 or 10 years ago. We could put up with plenty of downside when the alternative was nothing at all. That’s not the case anymore. Today, Google Presentations can be accessed by just about any device with internet connectivity, so the ‘compatibility frustration’ is no longer a necessary evil.
Let’s assume for a moment that all students have PowerPoint at home (and, thus, there’s no compatibility issue). It’s still nearly impossible to work collaboratively on a project. It requires flash drives and emailing and it’s all very linear.
But with Google Presentations, simply share the presentation with all collaborators and everyone can work on it simultaneously. All changes are saved automatically, revision histories can be accessed in case you need/want to revert to an older version, and there’s no need to be at the same place/time - it allows for a much more flexible, fluid experience which, ultimately, should result in a higher quality finished product and, more importantly, a more authentic and valuable learning experience.
3. Easy to Embed
Obviously this step isn’t necessary, as you can access the finished slide presentation via Google Drive, but an added bonus is that it is very simple to embed a Google Presentation into a webpage - on, say, the class website - which means everyone in the class could have access to the content of every presentation. A great benefit if, for example, each group was doing a presentation on a different topic (an individual battle) within a larger unit (the Civil War or World War II), but all students were going to be responsible for and assessed on their knowledge of each topic.
How to embed a Google Presentation into a WordPress website
Okay, so let me finish by giving a quick tutorial on how to embed a Google Presentation. I will assume that you know how to create one inside your Google Drive, but if that’s not the case, please feel free to reach out and I’ll help you figure that out.
Once you have your slide presentation created, click the SHARE button at the top right.
Change your share settings from Private to Public On The Web.
Once you do that, an additional option will pop up asking you what ‘the public’ can do with the presentation. It defaults to ‘Can View’ (meaning, they can just watch the slide presentation, which is typically what you’ll want to leave it at), but if you click on that blue text, you can change it to ‘Can Comment’ or ‘Can Edit’. Up to your needs which you choose.
Once you’ve done this, click DONE at the bottom. This will bring you back to the edit screen of your Google Presentation.
Now you need to publish your presentation to the web. Simply click on FILE (top left) and choose ‘Publish to the web’ from the menu. A window will pop up, just hit OK.
From the next screen, click ‘Start Publishing’.
And finally, from the next screen, you can copy the code you’ll need to embed your presentation into your website. Take note, though, of a couple settings you can change if you like. First, the ‘Presentation Size’. I think the default is 960px wide. That’s fine *if* the content area on your website that you’re going to paste it into is that wide, or wider. If not, you’ll want to choose a smaller (less wide) size from the drop down. Next, you can also change how quickly the slides change (a visitor can manually change from slide to slide as well, but this refers to the auto settings), as well as alter a few other settings, which I think are self explanatory.
Once all those settings are as you’d like them, click in the field below ‘Embed Code’, select the entire text of that code, and copy (ctrl c/command c) it.
Time to embed your presentation by pasting the code into your WordPress post or page. So, once you are in the desired spot in the back end of your website, make sure you click into the TEXT tab of your editor (rather than the VISUAL tab) and paste the code where you want it.
If this is your first time looking at the Text tab, you may see some wonky things. Don’t worry. This is basically the HTML code that goes into making your post look the way it looks. If you have bolded text, or a headline, or a bulleted list or quotes or…you name it. If you’ve formatted your text in any way, there is going to be some HTML code required to do so. Your WordPress editor handles all of that for you, but if you ever want or need (like now) to look ‘behind the scenes’ this is how you do it. Text tab.
Anyway, scroll down to the place you want the Google Presentation to appear. It will look a little different, but not so much that you can’t make sense of it. This is where you will now paste the embed code that you copied from the last step. If you no longer have it in your clipboard, you can go back to the presentation and copy it again…no problem. Once done, click PUBLISH, and your slide presentation will be visible to the world.
Here is an example just so you can see how it behaves.
Note: I fully grant that the proprietary Microsoft PowerPoint software is likely a more powerful presentation software. But I think most would agree that the vast majority of people, for the vast majority of projects, simply don’t need the added functionality that might not be possible with Google Presentations. For most, and certainly within the context of school-related projects, Google Presentations will more than suffice.
Best of luck, and holler anytime with questions.