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Archive for the ‘Ten Top Tips’ Category

Import your floorplans into Prezi to create an interactive map

04 Nov

A couple of years ago I wrote about some interactive maps we’d made of the Library, which we used for induction and teaching – they went down very well. The students are much more engaged by a slick Prezi than a tired PowerPoint, and it’s also very practical to have information about the library geographically located in a map, rather than in linear slides. So the maps worked really well as stand-alone web objects to be viewed independently by students and staff, as well as actual materials for live presentations and workshops.

You can read the post – Student Induction, Libraries, Prezi, and Interactive Maps – here; it also contains an embedded Prezi map, with which to compare the new version I’ve created below.

In 2012 we tried to improve the maps a little, including embedded a lot of videos in them – things like the virtual tour, but also information at the point of need, for example ’1 minute on… how to photocopy and scan’ next to where the printer/scanners are on the map.

This year, we did something I’ve wanted to do from the start, which is import floor plans to Prezi and create the maps based on those. Previously we simply didn’t have good enough floor-plans in a format I could use – hence having an outline of the Library buildings (drawn by someone in the Digital Library team), somewhat awkwardly divided up by me using lines and boxes. Now though, we have a MUCH better interactive map, the basis of which is an imported PDF of our floor plans.

Here is the generic map we display on our Info for New Students page (as always I’d recommend going into Full-Screen mode to view this – press the Start Prezi button then once it loads, click the box icon in the bottom-right corner):

We experimented with various ways of representing the different floors: separate maps for each floor, or one map but with box-outs containing the other floors, for example. In the end we opted for making the ground floor plan of the overall building take up most of each ground floor, but with the other floors contained within the same space. (That doesn’t make much sense; you’ll see what I mean if you look at the map.)

Unexpected benefits

Once again the response from the students was really good. Quite a lot of our induction talks happen as part of wider introductions to the course, from academics, the Student Union, Careers office etc – just the fact that we aren’t using PPT and they all are makes the students sit up and take notice. They’ve often not seen Prezi before so are impressed by the ability to zoom in on different parts of the Library and talk about them. It really does have more impact, and make people more aware of what you’re saying about the Library, than a PowerPoint presentation. (And I say that as someone who still likes and uses PPT a lot, including for a lot of teaching.)

That is the expected benefit of using Prezi, but each year another benefit that occurs is the map instigates conversations with the academics. People from the Departments we’re presenting in come up to us and want to talk about the Prezi – they’re often impressed by it, and they appreciate the fact that the students took notice of it. I really do think I’ve found it easier to work with departments after they’ve seen me using Prezi; it serves as a jumping off point / builds bridges. (Bit of a mix of metaphors there but you get what I mean!)

If you want to try making your own interactive map, here’s how

The process we followed at York was this:

  1. Open a new Prezi and edit the template so it reflected our branding
  2. Import the floorplans as a PDF. When you import as a PDF each page of becomes a seperate object on the canvas, to be manipulated: picked up, shrunk, stretched, etc
  3. Stretched the overall top-down view of the Library so it was absolutely massive – after all, everything else has to fit inside it
  4. Placed the individual building plans within the stretched top-down view
  5. Annotated the maps with further information by simply double clicking anywhere on the canvas to type
  6. Put in photographs to give the audience a better idea of where they were in the building
  7. Embedded YouTube vids at all appropriate places (this is very easy with Prezi – you just need the video’s URL)
  8. Saved a copy – individual Academic Liaison Librarians then took the generic map and made bespoke versions for each department
  9. Made different versions, by copying the maps, to suit specific needs – so edited the ‘path’ (the order in which the Prezi moves through all the text and pictures on the canvas) to make e.g. 5 or 6 key points only for a 10 minute presentation, or every single thing on the map for the stand-alone web version
    ..

An example of a different version of the map (as in point 9) is this iteration I made for my History of Art PG students, with subject-specific information added and non-essential path-points taken out:

We also use Prezi for some teaching but not all. So for my History of Art 1st years, with whom I have an hour on Texts and an hour on images, I use PowerPoint for the Finding Texts session, and Prezi for the Finding Images. The latter was created using a Prezi template – these are really good if you need something nice looking in a hurry. It took me around 2 hours to turn my predecessors PPT into the Prezi you see there.

Non-York examples

Here are other takes on the interactive map:

If you have examples I can add me list, or any comments or questions, let me know below!

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10 top tips to take your organisation’s Twitter account up a level

28 Aug

My current column for Library Journal is all about taking a Twitter account to the next level. It’s hard to keep organisational accounts progressing – a lot of them plateau after a while – so there’s 10 golden rules to get you past that point.

 

Image of the LJ column online

Click the image to read the full article on libraryjournal.com

 

The 10 golden rules in brief, are:

  1. Only tweet about your library one time in four
  2. Analyse your tweets
  3. Tweet multimedia
  4. Tweet more pictures
  5. If something is important, tweet it four times
  6. Use hashtags (but don’t go mad)
  7. Ask questions
  8. Get retweeted and your network will grow
  9. Put your Twitter handle EVERYWHERE
  10. Finally, avoid these pitfalls
    .

Read the full article with expanded information about each rule, here.

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#EdTech: 9 useful online tools to share with the academic community

10 Jun

A while back I blogged about a session I’d run for academics on the academic skills and digital literacy we teach at York. The point of blogging was to say that what the academics were really interested in was not what we taught the students, but how they themselves could become digitally literate.

With that in mind I decided to put on a session for academics on exactly that. It was to be a taster menu on 9 different EdTech tools that they might find useful in the Higher Education environment, for engaging students, boosting reputation, and their own research.

Importantly it wasn’t to be a library session – I wanted people to actually show up, after all… I asked the central Learning & Teaching Forum if I could deliver it as part of their workshop schedule – it just happened to be delivered by a librarian. Recent experiences suggested York was completely ready for this sort of thing (and indeed we had to move the room to a bigger venue as nearly 60 academics signed up for the session) – if you don’t read any more of this post my message would be, if you think you could run a Web 2.0 type session for lecturers and / or researchers, do it! They’re really enthusiastic about it – it’s no longer seen as a fad or a waste of time.

Anyhow, here’s the presentation I used:

For anyone really enthusiastic, the full hour and a half session was recorded too;
here’s where you can watch the presentation and hear my talk at the same time.

So, how did it go? The answer is really well – the group were very enthusiastic, and the feedback forms were extremely positive with only one exception. One lecturer I really like actually left the room almost in a daze, backing away saying ‘Ned, I think you’ve solved something I’ve been trying to sort for ages, one of these tools is what we need…’ and ran off to investigate there and then! :)

What worked

  • The focus was on tools that helped solve existing problems – some Web 2.0 stuff seems to create its own problems which it then solves… This was based on tools that already fitted into the fabric of academic life
  • It wasn’t a hands-on session but I encouraged as much discussion as possible, questions and sharing of experiences, so that it wasn’t just me banging on about stuff at the front
  • The What, Why, How, Tips type format I use in a lot of my training also worked well here – it’s really important to tell people why they’d find a tool useful BEFORE you tell them how to use it
  • It was the right thing at the right time – lots of the feedback comments were things like ‘This is exactly what I wanted!’ – had I tried to do this when I first got to York 2 years ago, for example, I’m not sure that would have been the case
  • It was matter of fact and practical. One academic said they’d been attracted by the lack of ‘platitudes and concepts’ which he said dominated most courses and workshops they were offered… The whole point of the session was to give people things they could DO right away which helped them in their actual real lives
    .

What didn’t

  • I think 9 was probably too many tools for the time. I should have done 7 perhaps – I felt like I was really galloping through everything. It was meant to be a taster-menu, but still
  • As with every training session ever, a couple of people found some of it too simplistic and a couple of other people found some of it too complicated – I’m not sure there’s a silver bullet for this issue, really, I’d love to know if anyone’s cracked it
  • A couple of people commented that they found Part 2 more useful than Part 1, but Part 1 was the more substantial section. If I run it again (and I probably will) I’ll try and put greater emphasis on the teaching tools rather than the social media side of things
  • I should have used more academic examples. (I told myself I’d be using loads of examples in the Becoming a Networked Researcher hands-on workshops I’m running at the moment – but much of the audience is different for these, so it’s really not relevant to tell myself that!)
    .

Incidentally, there was a really interesting conversation (which I didn’t feel qualified to contribute much to) about the nonsense female academics have to put up with online; or indeed any prominent females have to endure. It seems that as soon as your level of exposure reaches a certain point – my unscientific guess is, when you’ve been on TV just once – there will be some idiots who will take advantage of the net’s relative anonymity to say unpleasant or creepy things. If this is a subject you’re interested in, I’d highly recommend reading about Sara Perry’s Gender and Digital Culture project, which is looking to tackle the issue.

So as you can probably guess by now, I’m really pleased that we’ve reached a tipping point and there’s enthusiasm in the academic community for the potential applications of Web 2.0 tools. This is an area lots of librarians are interested in, so I really think it’s a great time to offer up your knowledge and expertise to a grateful audience in HE. There are a few institutions doing this, and it seems to be working for all of us.

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The ultimate guide to Prezi, updated and refreshed!

23 May

A lot has happened since I wrote this post, complete with a Prezi guide created in Prezi itself, in July 2011. I’ve been the Technical Reviewer for a successful book on Prezi, I’ve been twice approached by publishers to write books about Prezi (including the 2nd edition of the one I was reviewer for!), I’ve used it for loads more training and presentations, and the Prezi guides I’ve written across various formats have been viewed almost a quarter of a million times. (Clearly I’m wasting my time with all this library stuff. :) ) There’s also a deluge of comments on the Prezi, many asking when I’m going to update it – because the other thing that has changed, quite substantially, is Prezi itself. The whole interface has changed completely.

So here is the ultimate guide to Prezi, updated and refreshed for 2013, with new screenshots, new instructions, additional examples, and an edited FAQ. I hope it’s still useful!

The other change that’s happened in this time is that Prezi has gone from a little niche presentation tool to something you see a LOT. And many people really don’t like it – admittedly some of this comes from people being too cool to get on board with popular trends, but much of it comes from the majority of Prezis being fairly awful… They are made entirely with the presenter in mind (look what I can do!) and not with the audience in mind – and EVERY presentation should be made with the audience in mind. Bad Prezis get in the way of the messages you’re trying to get across, rather than support them – and worse still, can leave the audience feeling motion-sickness. It’s up to you as the Prezi creator to ensure this doesn’t happen! As you can imagine, the guide above contains tips for doing so.

A lot of people expect me to be this mad Prezi fan-boy because I’ve written these guides, and I’ve actually had delegates at conferences express disappointment when I’ve turned up with slides! But I don’t use Prezi all the time by any means – it has its strengths and its limitations, and isn’t appropriate for every scenario. These days, I use PowerPoint if I want to talk about one idea – something with a linear thread – and Prezi if I’ve got lots of disparate ideas or themes within the same presentation. That’s why I use it for my full-day training workshops (that and the fact that it’s a lot easier to make a nice Prezi than a nice PowerPoint – the thought of making 7 hours worth of slides that aren’t terrible fills me with dread…). The important thing is you decide whether or not you can get Prezi to work for you, and if so, when. It can be a fantastic way to get ideas across to an audience.

Also, in case you’ve not seen it, here’s 6 useful things which even experienced Prezi users miss, and if you’re interested my Prezi profile is here.

Happy presenting!

 

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