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by Janice Florent

image of a blind female student using her computer

This is the first in a series of blog posts that is a follow-up to my recent Accessibility in Education post where I wrote,

Even though you may not have a student with a disability currently enrolled in your course, there are a few things you can do when creating content that will save you time later when you do have a student with a disability. This is not wasted time as you will find some students without disabilities will take advantage of accessible content as well.

This post will focus on "Headings." A good heading structure is an important accessibility consideration. Headings should be used to indicate main points and sub-points on a page. Like an outline, heading levels should appear in logical and consistent order.

Headings allow screen reader users to easily navigate through the page and can make the page more usable for everyone.

image of a sheet of paper with headings

When creating documents, many people do not use true "heading styles." For example, when creating a heading, they simply change the font type, enlarge the font size, change the color, make it bold, etc. When this is done, the document has no real structure that can be detected by a screen reader program. While visual learners can scan the page for text that stands out from the rest, users who rely on a screen reader are not able to "see" these elements.

The correct way to provide structure for accessibility purposes is to use heading styles. Listed below are instructions on applying heading styles in MS Word, PowerPoint, and the Content Editor.

Add heading styles in MS Word document:

  1. Click on the Home tab.
  2. Highlight the text.
  3. Click on the appropriate heading selector in the styles panel (e.g. Heading 1 for top-level heading).
image of MS Word ribbon showing headings

Add heading styles in PowerPoint:

Using slide layouts will ensure that files have correctly structured headings and lists, and proper reading order.

To assign a Slide Layout:

  1. Click on the Home tab.
  2. Click on New Slide.
  3. Choose the desired layout from the slide options menu.
image of PowerPoint ribbon showing slide layouts

Add heading styles in the Content Editor:

  1. Highlight the text.
  2. Select the proper heading level from the style selector (e.g. Heading for top-level heading; Sub Heading 1 for a subheading of the top-level heading, etc.).
image of Content Editor showing style selector

Note: When creating heading styles always use the proper heading level. Create uniform headings so that a screen reader can navigate the content and can understand how it is structured.

Additionally, you can customize styles.
Learn how to change styles in MS Word 2013
Learn how to change a style set in MS Word 2010
Learn more about PowerPoint 2013 slide layouts
Learn more about PowerPoint 2010 slide layouts

The National Center on Disability and Access to Education developed Accessibility Cheatsheets to assist anyone who is creating accessible content. These free resources are catered to less-technical individuals.

by Bart Everson

I just got back from Meaningful Living and Learning in a Digital World, and I'll be sharing a number of ideas from that conference over the course of the summer.

Always on the lookout for alternatives to Microsoft (shudder) PowerPoint, I was quite intrigued to see the keynote presenter (Tonya V. Thomas) using Slides.

WP_20140319_005

If you haven't heard of it, Slides is a web tool for creating and sharing presentations. Because it uses HTML 5, all you need is a web browser. There's nothing to download or install. It doesn't use Flash. Everything is stored in the cloud, so as long as you have internet access, you'll have access to all your presentations.

Other features of note:

  • Works well with tablets and phones
  • Can be embedded in web pages
  • Exports to PDF
  • Supports mathTeX (for displaying complex equations)

Most interesting to me, you can add slides in both horizontal and vertical directions. Traditional slideshow presentations are one-dimensional (linear) but Slides can be two-dimensional, which opens up some intriguing possibilities.

The free version is pretty good. You can try Slides yourself at Slides.com. In my own tinkering, I've found it very easy to get started. If you'd like CAT to offer a workshop on this topic, leave a comment.

Photo credit: Khedara ආරියරත්න 蒋龙.
For other PowerPoint alternatives, see The Whiteboard Blog.

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by Janice Florent

image of Arlo and Janis cartoon where Janis suggest Arlo will take credit for her work

Managing, organizing, and citing references can be challenging especially if you don’t keep up with what and who you cite. Two recent articles from the Educational Technology and Mobile Learning web site suggested a few web tools for organizing, managing and publishing bibliographies, citations and references. Those web tools are,

More information about these web tools is available in the "6 of the Best Web Tools for Organizing and Managing Citations, References and Bibliographies" and "A Very Good Tool for Generating Citations, Reference Lists and Bibliographies" articles.

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by Bart Everson

Embrace Keyboard Shortcuts

Everyone know that I am a hug(e) advocate of keyboard shortcuts. They are easy to learn and will give your productivity a boost. If you really enjoy sitting in front of your computer, and want to spend more time doing that every day while getting less done, then by all means ignore them — but the rest of us will want to memorize our keyboard shortcuts.

Everyone also knows that I do not use PowerPoint, have never used it, and generally avoid Microsoft products as if I was afflicted with a life-threatening allergy.

So that's why you've never heard me talk about keyboard shortcuts for PowerPoint.

Fortunately Scott Schwertly, famed presentation expert, has compiled a list for you. These are keyboard shortcuts you can use when actually presenting with PowerPoint. Extremely handy, if you ever do that. Check it out.

by Janice Florent

Video is a powerful way to make that essential human connection in online courses.

Michelle Pacansky-Brock created this infographic listing six simple tips for recording video as well as a few video recording tools you can use.

The infographic (produced using Piktochart) was originally posted in Michelle Pacansky-Brock’s 6 Tips for Recording Video blog post at Teaching Without Walls.

You can get more information about how to use videos in teaching and learning in these CAT Food blog posts: How to Effectively Use YouTube in eLearning and Bb Tip #108: Videos.

If you are interested in how infographics are being used in education, read this Educause article, 7 Things you Should Know About Infographics.

by Janice Florent

QR (QR being short for Quick Response) codes were first created in 1994 by Toyota to track vehicles in manufacturing using a small barcode that allowed for high-speed component scanning. Although initially used for tracking parts in vehicle manufacturing, QR code technology is experiencing a revival — but not in the automotive industry. The small, square codes are ubiquitous, showing up on everything from billboards and flyers to food packaging.

image of a QR code

QR codes allow people to connect to video, audio, pictures, web sites and more by linking the individual to content on any supported smart phone or with a desktop reader. With the increasing use of mobile technology, QR codes are becoming more common in business and educational settings. The possibilities for their use are endless, and many translate into the classroom, offering a fun and exciting way for students to use technology for learning. If you are interested in how you might utilize QR codes in teaching and learning, read more in this article 50 Great Ways to Use QR Codes in the College Classroom.

Also, here is a link to my Prezi from a past CAT workshop on Educational Uses for QR Codes.

Are you using QR codes? If so, we would like to hear about it. Please feel free to leave a comment telling us how you are using QR codes in your teaching and learning.

by Janice Florent

female talking into a microphone

Did you know that you can add voiceovers (recorded narrations) to PowerPoint presentations? Adding recorded narrations to PowerPoint presentations is a useful feature. Benefits of adding recorded narrations to PowerPoint presentations include:

  • Presentations with voiceovers can be played back by students at their convenience.
  • Students can review the presentation over and over again until they grasp the content.

It’s not difficult to add voiceovers to PowerPoint presentations. Your computer must be equipped with a sound card, microphone, and speakers for you to record and hear the voiceovers.

Kelly Walsh, of EmergingEdTech.com, created this 3-minute Teaching with Tech Tip: Voice Over PowerPoint 2010 video that explains how to do it.

The eLearning Department at Champlain College posted some tips for recording narration into PowerPoint that you may find helpful. Additionally, you can find further explanation on setting and using slide timings at Microsoft's website.

Caution: Adding voiceovers can significantly increase the size of your PowerPoint presentation. If you have a long presentation with a lot of recorded narration, it may take a little while for students to download the file.