Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Reluctant PowerPoint (or Word or Excel)

So there we were, politely watching the smartboard show us how PowerPoint2010 was doing whatever PowerPoint2010 does when it's woken from a long summer break slumber by the presenter clicking one of the files in the list displaying the contents of his memory stick.

For a change, I was watching and not presenting and trying so hard to resist the temptation to help. As the minutes slowly ticked by - and they do tick slowly by in circumstances like this - the presenter, a Department Head, looked around and you could see that classic combination of panic and disappointment in his demeanour. I had promised myself that I'd behave and not comment on colleagues' e-learning techniques or methods used as it was a small group of mostly new staff getting training in something to do with tutorials. I knew how I felt about being dragged back to work a week early for this and had sympathy with my colleague who had presumably been dragged back even earlier to put this stuff together so the last thing I was going to do was make things worse.

When he went for the 'paper option' and distributed the classic A4 six-to-a-page handout with text that made me wish I'd brought my magnifying glass and cleaned my glasses better I thought I'd better offer some assistance, though. I had no quick solution to the slow-opening PowerPoint business itself but saw it as a bit of a challenge to get his show on the screen and on the road. I did have an idea but, as there were only a few of us there and the slides were nothing that he couldn't talk about perfectly well without them anyway, I suggested we carry on and I'd try the idea later.

Once he'd finished and was chatting to the others, I sneaked behind his back and opened Google Documents, then uploaded his presentation file to my account. Luckily it was a tiny file and that was virtually instant. I selected the conversion to Google presentation option and a minute or so later clicked the uploaded file in my list. Up came the first slide and another click had it full screen. "I've got to tell everyone about this!" I thought to myself and asked my colleague if I could briefly explain what I'd done.

"Oh, you've opened it. Well done!" he said.
"No," I replied. "This is a Google document version on-line. This is the sort of thing that could happen to any of us - and probably just when we don't want it to - like when an OFSTED inspector is watching you!"
I quickly ran through the process again and everyone was suitably amazed - that always makes me feel good. I miss not doing this sort of stuff and, with no ILT Co-ordinator or Champions nowadays, no-one gets much guidance any more.

I did think about mentioning that he really ought to have had a .pps (PowerPoint Show) rather than a .ppt so that the audience didn't get a glimpse of what was coming up but with only a few slides that wasn't such a big deal. The filenames and picture icons for some of the other stuff on his USB stick, however, might have caused some amusement and I did mention that it is a pretty good idea to keep the documents you're going to use at least in a folder away from potentially embarrassing or personal items!

It's all very simple stuff but hopefully there's half a dozen people who'll be less reliant on reluctant local Office applications now.