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.