Identify Presentation Needs
Before you jump into the development of a desktop presentation, consider the purpose of the project. Do you really need to spend the time and effort to create a presentation? Would reading a primary source document, watching a video, or doing a hands-on experiment be a more efficient, effective, or appealing way to teach this topic?
Explore Directions
There may be thousands of other educators out there who teach the same thing you do. There's a good chance you might be able to find a presentation that someone else has already created on your topic. Rather than spending your time developing a presentation from scratch, use or adapt someone else's project. Some people enjoy the development of new materials, while others are happy focusing on other aspects of teaching. Consider each of the following four alternatives:
Presentation Needs
Dozen Design Ideas
Instructional Strategies
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Think about your teaching and learning style. Are you better off using a project developed by someone else or creating your own?
Critique & Use
Before jumping into the production of your own presentation, consider critiquing and using existing resources. Along with test questions, handout materials, and lesson plans, many new textbooks provide presentations as part of their teaching resources. For example, many textbooks from popular publishers contain a CD-ROM with a presentation for each book chapter. Start with your publisher by doing an Internet search for the producer of your instructional materials or the title of your book.
Besides textbook resources, you may also be able to find presentations developed by other instructors. These can often be downloaded from the Internet from online courses. The best way to locate these materials is by doing an Internet search for the topic of your course, unit, or lesson and the words "presentation", "PowerPoint", or "lesson".
At many schools and universities, students are actively involved in developing instructional materials such as websites and presentations. You can sometimes locate these on the Internet by searching for the name of your course and the words "student project" or "presentation".
Many schools and universities are posting sample presentations online. Explore presentations across content areas to see different approaches to the development of desktop presentations. Notice how information is presented. Ask yourself whether you think this presentation would engage students.
Do a search on the Internet for the name of your publisher, title of your book, or keywords such as your topic and the word PowerPoint. Then, critique a presentation.
Modify, Adapt, or Enhance
It's rare to find a presentation that fits your needs exactly. In most cases, you'll need to modify, adapt, or enhance it to fit your needs.
Modify. Updating the information in the presentation is a common modification. You may need more current data or statistics. If the presentation only provides a single focus, you may add multiple perspectives such as an alternative viewpoint or global view. Many presentations are just plain boring. They may contain point after point of bulleted text, but little scaffolding for retention of the information. Sometimes a different channel of communication is helpful. For example, consider seeking pictures, sounds, videos, or diagrams to enhance the presentation. Added interest can also come from interesting scenarios, case studies, or examples.
Adapt. In some cases, you'll use the sample presentation as a starting point and adapt elements to fit your needs. For example, you might use a scenario from one presentation and the examples from another presentation. Sometimes you need to adapt the presentation for a particular level. For example, you might find a good high school presentation that could be adapted for the middle school or university level by changing the vocabulary, emphasis, or examples. Sometimes a presentation can be adapted for a particular region of the world. For example, you might find a good presentation dealing with tide pools found on the Atlantic coast. You may be able to adapt this to include all tide pools.
Enhance. Sometimes the presentation just needs some pizzazz. This can come from a visual design or instructional design perspective. Adding color, sound, or other elements can liven up a boring textbook chapter presentation. You might redesign the presentation to include a question and answer format or use a reoccurring example. Also, look for the best teaching resources. You might use the introduction from one presentation, examples from your textbook, and your personal photographs.
If you use the work of others as part of your project, be sure to give the original author credit in your presentation or handout materials.
To find resources that could be used to enhance your course, do an Internet search for the topic and the specific resources you seek such as "photographs", "quicktime movie", "diagram", or "speech." Then, modify, adapt, or enhance a presentation.
Do you lack the time, technical expertise, or resources to develop a quality presentation? If so, consider co-producing materials. For example, get together with colleagues at your school or around the world to develop materials. You could each work on a different aspect of the course. Or, you might gather content, while a friend develops the presentation materials. You might also be able to get some help through the local community. There may be others who would benefit from the materials you develop. Get students involved with project development. Co-producing materials is a great way to provide a real-world audience for student presentations.
Brainstorm a list of colleagues or other resource people that you could contact to start a coproduction project. Then, create a plan for co-producing a project.
Many people feel most comfortable building their own instructional materials rather than using or redesigning the work of others. This may seem time-consuming, but there are shortcuts to can expedite the process. For example, Microsoft PowerPoint and other presentation software come with wizards, content presentations, design presentations, or templates you can use to get started. If you'd rather use your own design, start from scratch and enjoy!
Do an Internet search for "PowerPoint tutorial" and you'll find lots of online help for learning to use the Microsoft PowerPoint software. Then, create your own presentation.

Proceed to the next section called Dozen Design Ideas.

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Created by Annette Lamb, 02/02.