Thursday, May 5, 2016

Office Mix: A Good Solution for Audio in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows

If you have the newest version of PowerPoint (2016) and you like to add audio to the slides, it is now essential to download the PowerPoint add-in Office Mix or when you export the video, the speaker icons will still be visible on the slides.

UWEC people can download Office Mix on a university computer from the UWEC appstore by going to in Internet Explorer (sorry Mac users - this is only available on Windows). You can also download Office Mix on personal computers from the Microsoft website. When it asks you to sign in, you can choose Work/School account and enter your UWEC email address.

Office Mix integrates right into PowerPoint in a tab called Mix, so it's pretty user friendly. I recommend recording audio right through the Mix tab (Slide Recording - far left) rather than using the Slide Show tab that was recommended in PPT 2013. In other words, you can do all your recording and exporting under the Mix tab.

The recording interface via the Mix tab has many advantages over the old recording interface (screenshot below) including seeing your mic audio to know if it is picking up, inking/annotating, seeing your slide notes, recording your webcam video, and choosing when to record vs starting automatically in the old version. 

Below is a screenshot of it with the Export to Video button highlighted. It's important to export to video so you can upload the mp4 to Kaltura (if you're at UWEC) and share it with students in a format that is easily accessible to them. Not all students can access audio through the .ppt file.

You can now/still...
  1. Record slide by slide, so if you make a mistake just stop and re-record! It will ask if you want to overwrite, so it's more difficult to accidentally record over good recordings. 
  2. See lines moving by the microphone to know it is picking up audio and verify that the correct mic is being used. 
  3. Easily access the inking tools if you want to circle or write something on the slide.
  4. Hit record when you're ready (the old way would just start automatically).
  5. Record your webcam as a small window within the PowerPoint or as the whole slide. It didn't turn out in the screenshot, but it should be viewable on the top left side under Audio and Video.
  6. See your slide notes! 
  7. Export it and upload to Kaltura so the students can view it easily on all devices and platforms.
Office Mix has additional functions like inserting a screencast and adding quiz questions, but it needs to be hosted on Microsoft's site for those features to work. However, Kaltura now has quizzing and if you need to add a screencast, an instructional designer can help you figure out the easiest way! 

Friday, April 15, 2016

Tips for Offering Virtual Participation for a Conference

Virtual conferences and virtual participation for face-to-face conferences are becoming more common. The UW System LTDC just put on the 3rd annual virtual showcase (entirely online), and I was super impressed with the organization and coordination involved from the perspective of a participant and presenter. The recordings are now available if you want to check them out.

Conferences that are both online and face-to-face at the same time are a challenge. I've been on both ends of this: as the facilitator of the face-to-face meeting trying to make things work for the online people as well as an online participant in a primarily face-to-face conference. I would like to share some tips to make this process more effective.
  1. If you're planning on having the online participants fully participate, hold the meeting in a distance education room that's outfitted with mics for people in the room and technology that allows participants to see both screen sharing and the presenter. I frequently use web conferencing tools in my office, and I admit I wondered why we even need these rooms because Skype is fine, right? Just set up a laptop and a Yeti mic and call it good. No. I was wrong. If you are dealing with a group of people in a room transmitting to online people, you should have a room set up to accommodate the situation.
    • On a related note, attempting to repeat questions/comments from the audience just does not work. People forget, and there's usually a lot lost in the summary. Plus the volume varies considerably.
  2. Involve a person who does web conferencing for his/her job. At least, have a person like this on speed dial, consult with him/her ahead of time, and do a test in the room. I thought that my personal use of web conferencing would suffice since I often hold and participate in online meetings, but it's a bigger deal when it's a whole room and you're flustered in front of a group. People specialize in this.
  3. Have a virtual participation coordinator (I just made up that title!). This is a person in the room specifically dedicated to the online people - kind of like the lifeline to the room. One person cannot do both the online technology and facilitate the meeting and/or present. 
  4. If you have breakout/discussion sessions, you might need to provide a little extra guidance to the online people because communication is less natural in a web conference. Distractions abound and people are reluctant to speak. The virtual participation coordinator should facilitate, not just make sure things are okay and leave.
  5. Be prompt or at least let the online people know if things are running late. The face-to-face group knows if lunch was late or some other distraction is delaying the start of a session, but the online people are left wondering.
  6. If you do intros face-to-face, include the online people too! Try to give them a comparable experience, or let them know it will not be if that is the case.
  7. Provide expectations up front. Are the online participants going to just listen in to a live stream without interaction or participate through chat only? Or are you going to want them to share their webcam and mic and interact? Prepare them, so they change out of their pajamas and have a mic ready if necessary. 
  8. Get the PowerPoints out to the online participants ahead of time in case the technology malfunctions. Then if you have to choose whether to show a video of the presenter or a screensharing of the PowerPoint, you can share the video because they will have the PowerPoint.
  9. Plan well and consider both groups. Some activities done face-to-face aren't going to work well with the online group. For instance, if you have different tables talk about different topics simultaneously, what do the online people do? How can they pick a table/topic? Can you have technology at each table so the online people can choose their table? Then how do you make it so the online people can see who is talking at the table? If you can't make it comparable, let the online people know and charge much less. 
  10. Try to create opportunities for the face-to-face people to interact with the online people if possible. I think the coolest way to do this is if you have access to a telepresence robot who can move around to different tables. These feel more person-like, but maybe a few iPads would do the job? Watch out for feedback, though, and someone will need to be on hand to orient them to see whoever is speaking if it's at a table. 
It is possible to offer both synchronous face-to-face and online participation in an event, but a lot of work is involved in planning and setting up technology. Be prepared! If you have additional tips, please share in the comments (comments are moderated due to spam but I'll release any that are legitmiate).

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

A Study on Recording Videos of Diagrams

Here's a summary of one of the most interesting research articles I've read about multimedia learning. This is a series of experiments with about 100 participants in each. Screenshots are from the article.

Experiment 1: Full Body 


In this experiment, they split the participants into three groups who watched videos with the same content and audio, but different presentation styles. One group (screenshot on the left) saw the presenter talk through an already-drawn diagram explaining the content. The middle screenshot is of the presenter drawing the diagram as she talks through it. The right side screenshot shows the presenter pointing at an already drawn presentation.

Results: Seeing the diagram being drawn improved learning for people with low prior knowledge. This highlights how novice learners have different needs than learners with more expertise. This is called the expertise reversal effect and has been researched extensively. It's one reason we need to consider our audience when designing instruction.

Experiment 2: Hand Only 


This time they compared audio explanation of an already drawn diagram (no hand or body) with a version that showed the diagram being drawn with the hand.

Results: The group who saw the hand drawing the diagram performed better. In this case, prior knowledge did not matter.

Experiment 3: No Hand


At this point, the question is whether seeing the hand or seeing the diagram being drawn caused the improvement in experiment 2. Researchers then used an iPad app to record a diagram being drawn and one already drawn (both with audio), no hand in either condition.

Results: No difference was recorded, leading them to conclude the difference was due to the hand. This was surprising to me because it seems clearly better to see the diagram being drawn instead of simply staring at a stagnant drawing while listening to a lecture. This was a very short presentation (around 2 minutes), so I'm curious what would happen if it was longer. Prior knowledge did not matter.

Experiment 4: Body vs Hand 


The last experiment compared being able to see the hand with being able to see the body in the recording.

Results: The group who saw the hand performed better. Fiorella and Mayer speculated that the hand provides enough of a visual cue to stimulate a social connection with the instructor, which helps motivate the learner (social agency theory) whereas seeing more of the instructor can be a distraction.

I presented on this at a conference yesterday, and a participant asked if the size could have made a difference, since the version with the hand is more zoomed in. That's a good point; the researchers didn't address it. 

I wish they would have compared drawing with the hand to drawing without the hand on the iPad app so there was a true hand/no hand experiment and lengthen it to about 7 minutes instead of 2 so it's more realistic. Experiment 2 compared hand to no hand, but included the variable of being drawn or already drawn.

The point, though, seems to be that the hand provides a valuable social cue. This is good news for instructors who like to write on paper under a document camera and record it to make a video. This is a low tech solution that can be done in an empty classroom. Writing on a whiteboard as they did in these screenshots is a good option, but I think a little more difficult because you need to stay in a particular spot or have someone record it for you. In addition, you might need to wear a mic to get clear audio since the video camera wouldn't be as close as a document camera.


Fiorella, L., & Mayer, R. E. (2015). Effects of observing the instructor draw diagrams on learning from multimedia messages. Journal of Educational Psychology. Advance online publication.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Exporting a PowerPoint with Audio as a Video on a Mac Using the Virtual Lab

Recording audio into PowerPoint is advantageous because it creates a separate recording for each slide, so if you make a mistake, it's easy to just re-record one slide rather than edit using a more complicated program like Camtasia. It's also nice to avoid introducing an additional program into the process for people who are less adventurous technologically since PowerPoint is often familiar.

To record audio in PowerPoint 2016 for Mac, just go to the Slide Show tab and choose Record Slide Show. Bam! You're recording.

TIP: Make sure to stop after one slide and listen to verify the mic is working.

Then Export it as a Video ... on Windows :(

After audio is added, the resulting file is probably huge. I recommend doing two things to combat this:
  • Break down the presentation into chunks of ~10 minutes, both to manage file sizes and accommodate attention spans. 
    • If you realize the presentation is really long after recording audio, you can break it into a few .pptx files.
  • Export the PowerPoint as a video (mp4, ideally) and stream it from somewhere like Kaltura or YouTube. Then you can just distribute a URL. It's a little more work now, but less work later since you won't need to figure out why some students can't access it.
Unfortunately, the Mac version of PowerPoint is seriously inferior to the Windows version.
  • PowerPoint 2011 says you can export as a movie/video, but the audio is not included so not really
  • PowerPoint 2016 removed this function completely (hopefully it will be included later). 
The current best solution for Mac users who want to narrate PowerPoints on their Mac is to still record audio on the Mac version, but export it on Windows. I verified that files created on both versions (2011 and 2016) transfer over to Windows just fine, but make sure you are using fonts that are available on both platforms. I recommend something like Trebuchet, Geneva, Helvetica, or Verdana.

Use the Virtual Lab to Access Windows on Your Mac (UWEC only)

You can physically go to a Windows computer to do this, of course, but if you want to stay on your Mac we have a good option at UWEC: the virtual lab (Lab Anywhere). It allows people to access Windows on different platforms. It can be used in situations like this, where a person wants to use a Windows software but stay on their Mac. It is also used to access software only available on university computers, such as SPSS.

It is pretty easy to use the virtual lab. If you don't want to commit to downloading a program, you can just access it through a browser by going to .

Choose the option on the right for HTML access, then choose General Lab Computer. At some point it will prompt you to login with UWEC credentials. Then you'll see the familiar Windows start screen. Voila!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Weekly Due Dates are Good for Procrastinating Online Learners

In past posts, I've mentioned that I am completing my PhD online in Education with a specialization in e-learning. Well, I made it through all my regular classes and am now in my Comprehensive Exam aka Comps class. Rather than sitting in a room for many hours writing long responses to questions that determine whether I continue to the dissertation process or not, I am in a 10-week long class that accomplishes the same purpose. I've heard that many programs both online and face-to-face are moving toward this multiple week process instead of the high stakes exam. Anyway, this has presented unique challenges that I thought I'd reflect on here (as a somewhat legitimate way to procrastinate!).

A primary difficulty for me, as a huge procrastinator, is that nothing is due until 10 weeks, which is January 3rd, 2016. We had unseasonably warm weather in October which made it extremely difficult to work on an assignment not due until January, so I didn't. Submitting outlines for feedback is recommended, however, so I've submitted them every other week which has actually split up my work oddly because I start one question's outline before I've completed writing the previous one (I have to write responses to four questions). Although it has been somewhat helpful to start mulling over a question, it has been more difficult to move into a new topic and then try to get back into the previous one again later. I also work on school only on the weekends, so with five days off, the content gets shelved in the back of my mind and each weekend I have to dust it off again.

I also don't use outlines in my writing normally. I just write and things work themselves out. Of course, I have some sort of plan going into it, but not an organized outline. I know this is not how you are supposed to write, but it has worked for me so far. So it feels inefficient for me to write an outline, then next weekend start on another question and submit an outline, then have to go back and interpret a previous outline when I'm actually ready to write.

Another difficulty for me is that I am struggling to develop interest in the questions. They're about the research process and theories that I didn't study earlier and my dissertation idea does not tie in, so that's been tough. I'm hoping that the dissertation process will be less painful because I will be interested in researching my idea.

There is also a lot of anxiety associated with a course called an "exam" that is pass or fail when nothing is due until the end (especially when the cost of retaking it is almost $3000). In the past, I quickly whipped up a 5-7 page paper each weekend because there was a clear due date each Sunday night. I had lower stakes ways to test the waters and I got to know the expectations of the instructor. Each week I thought I could do better if I tried harder or had more time, but I did fine. Now, with 10 weeks to write 40-60 pages, I am nearly paralyzed with perfection. Must have the best primary sources! Must use the perfect words! Seriously, I have had days where I stared at pdfs, unable to comprehend the words, because I was working myself up about it. My previous plan of just writing something to get it out there isn't working.

So what would work better for me? I wish this course was five weeks long rather than 10: a question per week with a week to look it all over and DONE. I'd take a few days off of work and just immerse myself in it. 10 weeks is too long. I told myself that after last weekend's torture when I was finally being productive on Sunday afternoon, that I needed to start working on it during the week too. I did well with that on Monday and then...not so much the rest of the week. I had stuff to do after work and thinking is hard after working all day. By the time Thursday came around I actually forgot that was even my plan.

At this point, if I could go back in time to when I was contemplating a PhD, I'd tell myself to not do it. Really. It has taken so much time and money that I can't guarantee will benefit me. However, last weekend I had an epiphany and thought that (hopefully) future me will look back at current me and say, "That wasn't so bad! Aren't you glad you did it?" Let's hope so anyway! I am way too far in to quit now. Better get back to it!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Uploading a Published Video Output Folder to D2L

Most of the time I recommend for instructors to produce their videos as a mp4, upload to Kaltura or YouTube, and give the students a URL but sometimes the functionality of the video requires it to be uploaded directly to D2L. In this case, there is usually a whole output folder to upload. Here are instructions on how to do that.

1. Zip the folder that was created by the program when you produced/published
  • On Windows: right click on it and choose "Send to" then Compressed (zipped) folder
  • On Mac: right click and choose "Compress [name of folder]"
2. Go into the appropriate D2L course.
3. Go to Manage Files by going to Content, then Table of Contents, and Related Tools (screenshot below).

4. Click Upload

5. Search for the zipped folder, upload, and Save.
6. Put your cursor in the white area next to the folder title to enable the blue drop down menu.
7. Click the downward facing arrow in the blue area for more functions. Then choose Unzip.

8. Go to the Content Page and under the Module which you would like the video to appear, choose New and Add from Manage Files.
9. This will open up the Manage Files area. Enter the folder you just unzipped (they should be in alphabetical order). The specifics will vary in the next part, but you will probably want to choose the file that includes the word "player" and ends in .html.
10. Click the blue Add button.
11. It will call the item (in this case) "excel error bars_player" so you will likely want to change the name to something more like "Excel Error Bars Video."
12. Make sure it works!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

404: Professor Not Found - Planning Ahead for When You Will Miss Class

Class doesn't have to stop if the professor isn't able to be there. Maybe you have a conference, family event, or want to be prepared for the inevitable snow/polar vortex day that will happen in Wisconsin. Here are some ideas.

Non-technological options: 

You could have the students...
  • Work on a group project or big assignment & submit an update or draft
  • Meet with a writing center tutor & submit a summary about the meeting
  • Field experiences related to the class & submit a write-up
  • Have them prepare something for the next class meeting such as a jigsaw activity in which they teach each other course concepts  
    • Make sure to include accountability so they do it. 

But this blog is about technology! 

  • Often the same objectives from your face-to-face class can be met online via D2L
  • You could also prepare an online "floating" module important to the class that can be done anytime
    • You could use it for an unexpected absence as well, or just have an online week
    • CETL/LTS Instructional Designers (April & Avonlea) can provide individual help and training         

Ideas for content the students can absorb:      

  • They can read: Textbook, articles, websites, etc. 
  • They can watch videos online: YouTube, Google Videos, we can stream DVDs, etc. 
  • They can watch a video you made: Audio in PPT, Screencastomatic, YouTube Record Webcam 
  • They can do a combination of these things (very common)

Ideas for activities students can do online: 

  • Reading or video guides: answer questions while reading or watching to ensure they get main points. Submit to dropbox for grading or just check off. 
  • Quizzes: can create a pool of questions and randomize so students get different questions or allow them to take multiple times for mastery (don’t provide answers at first)
  • Discussions - SO many options of how to do discussions! 
    • Tips: "Must post first" option in D2L discussion & grading (sorting by name, associating a grade item)


  • Make sure to include grading criteria
  • If you will not have time to grade, maybe use something automated like a quiz
  • Students' technology skills are often overestimated
  • Disability accessibility 

Avoid (usually): 

  • Filler activities such as having a guest speaker on a tangentially related topic 
  • Assigning busy work  
  • Meeting online via web conferencing at the same time you would have had class  
    • Technology problems are common & lack of visual cues and delay make it much less natural than f2f