Originally published on www.itsbenwhitaker.com on 02/10/2017
In the previous part of this blog series on the G-Suite, I focused on tips and tricks for using the hub of the GSuite, Google Drive, effectively. I acknowledged that if used as intended (and kept organised!), the Drive can be a repository of all your files, it can be fully searchable and can save time and money for schools. Today, we will be looking at Google Slides - the presentation application within the G-Suite. Many people will be familiar with PowerPoint or Keynote and many of the features do cross over (which is good and saves times eh?) but I would love to showcase a few of the specific tools and features of Slides (and it has had an overhaul in September 2017 which is exciting!).
Google Slides: The Reel
I decided to call Google Slides, 'The Reel', to harp back to the good 'ol days of cinema film reels. I am not quite old enough to remember the reels having to be changed part way through a film but I do remember the whirring of the machine and the 'man in the back'. The Old Cinema I used to frequent in Blackburn is now a church (yes, that way round!) yet I still remember the excitement of queuing up to go and see such timeless classics as Titanic and Jurassic Park (the first one!). Slides, Google's answer to PowerPoint, Keynote and Prezi is an amazing tool for showcasing just about anything.
It is made for collaboration - this could be a whole post on its own (and it probably will be soon enough!) but this is such an important difference from PowerPoint (even with 365 access). Being able to share slide-decks with students and colleagues so that you can all work on different parts simultaneously allows for more joined-up thinking. I have used this loads with individual students being given my design template (I am pretty protective over fonts and styles!) and then the students include specific information, e.g. on a research project on different influences on Western philosophy. This is particularly helpful with group projects where participants aren't able to be in the same room at the same time (e.g. homework tasks) - there is no excuse.
It is simple to use - although Slides doesn't have all the features of PowerPoint, the simple user interface makes your presentation design a simpler process - there aren't lots of options - even on Design options in 'Explore' there aren't hundreds for me to waste time trying out! But with allowing Diagrams (new feature), you can add necessary tweaks to take the design to the next level.
It can be accessed from any device - as with the whole suite, when logged into Chrome, slide-decks are easily accessible from anywhere and because it is intuitive, it changes formatting depending on the device. This is particularly helpful for teachers who move classrooms a lot or presenters who travel - no more need for USB sticks that easily get left in a computer (he speaks from past experience!)
It has a range of add-ons (new feature) - as of September 2017, Slides now has new add-on features such as Pear Deck (to help share presentations within a classroom) and Unsplash (copyright-free beautiful images) which are my two faves. To get the best out of Slides, take a look at these amazing little features (PS It does take time for each domain to update to Add-Ons so don't panic if yours aren't available yet).
It allows image editing within the application - no further need to change an image before importing - you can do it right within Slides and with the add-ons (including Adobe Stock and Unsplash, you can upgrade easily!)
It links really well with YouTube - with Google owning YouTube, there is such easy integration into your presentations. Not only can you embed videos directly into slides, you can determine auto-play, start-stop times and muted audio. You don't even need to know what video you are looking for or its URL - you can search directly from Slides!
It allows page to page linking for large documents - one thing I have used Slides for is to create buttons to direct student learning. For instance, if you are teaching on slide 3, want students to move to slide 27 to see a bibliography, and then back to the original slide, you can add a 'Link' to another slide in the deck! And with the new update, these links can be between different decks too.
It converts easily between formats - if your presentations are saved in PPT or you need for some reason to turn them into such, there is an easy way to save them in different formats.
It allows for real-time Q&A - when watching a presentation, there is nothing more frustrating than wanting to ask for clarification but having to wait until the end and then forgetting what you wanted to ask! Or that annoying trick presenters play by asking you to write a question on a Post-It and then selecting one at 'random' (Read "This one was easy to answer!"). The real-time Q&A allows the audience to follow a simple URL and submit questions on the go which the presenter can open to or wait until an opportune moment to address. This makes it easy for the audience with mobile phones to ask on the go... Check out the How To steps here.
It allows for Keep integration (new feature) - when you make notes in Keep on the go, you can now use the Keep notepad right within Slides with drag and drop features. This is a real time-saver not having to flick between apps.
It lets coders code (new feature) - the geeks love to code and now with script capabilities, developers are coding to integrate Sheets and other apps right into the slide-deck (imagine real-time Sports Day updates in a beautiful presentation)