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Multimedia in Lecture Continued


Brian Pankuch, Editor

Note: This article was scanned using OCR from the 1999 Spring CCCE Newsletter. Please contact us if you identify any OCR errors.

I've just finished my first semester using PowerPoint in lecture. Here are some observations while they are still fresh. You can spend a great deal of time putting together your own PowerPoint lecture material. Add to this a less than clear idea of what you can use under copyright law in your lecture, on an intranet, or the Internet, and I'd suggest asking the author(s) of the textbooks you are using if they have material available.

Jack Kotz, ·chemistry and Chemical Reactivity', is making his PowerPoint material available at for users of his textbook. You need User ID and a password available from a Saunders representative.
Karen Timberlake, author of ·chemistry', Harper Collins, has some of her PowerPoint lectures available at:
Just as we don't use textbooks verbatim I'm sure you will want to make changes even in excellent work such as these, and it will give you a really useful start. You'll want to customize it for your situation. A number of people suggested using a dark background, such as deep blue, with yellow-gold fonts. I experimented with some PowerPoint backgrounds, designs, and color schemes. Between those included with PowerPoint and the PowerPoint value pack there is a wide variety of choice.
You can strip out anything you don't like. Bring up one of the designs in PowerPoint and play with the entire screen, I stripped out the background shapes and put in some of my favorite molecular structures made in a drawing program. The structures are faint and don't seem to affect readability, a number of students commented positively on it. Once you get a design you are happy with go to View-> Slide-> Master and save your creation to be the default for your slides.
I used both a dark blue and a dark green for background: Jack Kolz uses lighter backgrounds and his looked great projected. He also tends to use a. lot of graphics and at least 32-36 font, colored boxes, and shadow effects. There are many ways to set up the title with text and graphics. Having a title box and a textbox on the master worked well with the font size and color set. It is quite easy to add additional textboxes and graphics, buttons, links to movies, programs, or the Internet.
Other admonitions are to use at least a 28 font, Arial seems to project very well with my system, but any plain font seems all right. You can use a lot animations' in PowerPoint. These are ways to have your text move onto the screen, some with sound. Many experienced users suggest not mixing too many fonts, 'animations,' and sound effects. Personally I like 'appear' and 'zoom in' with an occasional 'fly from the left' for special emphasis.' Looking over slides I have used this last semester the ones that appeal most visually are those with a 32 font and graphics. Another suggestion is not to put up too much text. This is easier said than followed in practice since there are advantages to having a complete concept or problem available on one slide.
Graphics: A picture is still worth a lot of words, and is often a good take off point for discussion. Having the graphics supplied with the PowerPoint lecture material from a publisher without concern for copyright is helpful. JCE: Software has a number of CO's with graphic material including QuickTime movies available at, for use as additional material Let us know if you find other sources.
I ran a simple questionnaire past my students about a month into the semester to get feedback about PowerPoint while I could still use it, and found that they generally like the PowerPoint format quite a bit. A few felt we were going too fast. Most of the remarks made to me in person about going too fast were from students who never made it to class on time, and then took another lengthy period to get their material out and start taking notes.
With a remote in one hand and a laser pointer in the other I find myself walking more among the students, and in particular spending more time near students who are doing poorly. It is interesting, many are just doodling, and gentle suggestions that it may be a good idea to copy down some of the material resulted in better performance. Some of my A students took virtually no notes, but were generally attentive and interactive.
In place of a screen the lectures were projected on the side wall. This allows me to have a large Periodic Table at the front and room to put up additional material on the board in response to student questions. A number of students commented they got more out of the problems done at the board than those laboriously done in PowerPoint. Since those done at the board were in response to specific student questions it is not surprising.
As mentioned last time I projected some examples where students answered multiple choice questions or parts of questions by holding up cards with a-d on them. This continual feedback on how the entire class is doing was helpful. It also keeps the daydreamers more involved.
I used a number of QuickTime movies and Director animations, http://www (which I made myself). There are 2 ways I can call up Quick Time movies. One is to make a link from the slide by selecting a button or graphic on a slide, and command-k (on a Mac) then choosing the address of the movie. Clicking on this link allows you to open the movie in Simpletext where the movie plays fine, except you can't resize the movie or anything else. OK for me since I have software that allows me to enlarge the movie to my hearts content. Though this is a little tedious. An alternative is to link to MoviePiayer, which usually plays the QuickTime movies .. In MoviePiayer you can resize the movies directly, loop endlessly, etc., but you have to use File in MoviePiayer to open your movie.
I decided I didn't want to be fumbling between many different electronic systems to show Quick Time movies and Director animations, simulations and programs. I wanted it as smooth as possible-click and connect. This means having everything I use on my PowerBook hard drive. At the moment my PowerPointfiles are about 400 MEG and growing. I can access anything with a few clicks. Drives 8-9 G are available with 36 G shortly available, and of course DVD is also available so you can have a lot of storage.
Showing a 30-60 second QuickTime movie once is not effective with my students. What seemed to work was putting a simulation up on loop letting students watch and discuss it with their study group. I asked the students to write up the important points they saw individually, collected them, and read a few anonymously, discussing with the class what was being missed. I then summarized the important points. I didn't announce it, but put up the same simulation for the next test. Students were asked for an explanation as an extra credit problem - virtually everyone did quite well.
This would cost a great deal of time to do with each QuickTime movie, perhaps doing it occasionally will develop some critical ability that carries over.
My decision has been to use my big desktop machine at home for all development work. Primarily because I have a 20" screen and the mouse is much faster than the touch pad at the moment. Only "finished" work is then transferred to the PowerBook. Unfortunately some links seem to be lost doing this unless I do a complete transfer of the whole 400M file. Clicking on links and having then fail in the middle of a lecture is not fun. A cable can be used to hook the PowerBook directly to the desktop computer it then acts like another hard drive and transfer of the entire 400M file is a couple of minutes.
When comparing different strategies I use, students at the end of the semester had the .most positive remarks about having tbem solve problems at the board with their study groups (I also use the study groups on research projects). They were positive about PowerPoint, and linked animations. When asked for suggestions of what to tell students starting the course my interactive chemistry programs were at the top of the list.
Tests that had been given previously were used for comparison. No meaningful differences were obvious looking at grade distributions. I did, however, have one lecture in which no one earned less than a C, which has not happened for over a decade. I'll be impressed if this happens often. For the moment it is a lot of time and energy, but bouncing out of bed early on Saturday and Sunday to enthusiastically try a new idea .is great. Personally I'd recommend it highly if you enjoy playing on computers and exercising some creativity, but I'd start with as much already done as possible from your publisher, and spend your extra energy on being creative for your individual students. Enjoy!
Adjusting molecular structures in PowerPoint:
If you take a structure built in a drawing program such as Chemlntosh 3.4.4 the structure may be somewhat different than you want. Or you may want to make few changes in it without leaving PowerPoint. A handy way to make changes in PowerPoint is to take the structure, select it then choose ungroup
At the top of the figure is the molecular structure. The bottom of the figure is what it looks like after it has been selected and ungrouped. I have the icons for group and ungroup on my toolbar. For those with contextual menus (on a Mac) you can select any portion of the drawing holding control and a popup menu will give you access to group and ungroup.
I've taken the original structure, ungrouped it, selected and duplicated a CH2, pasted it in so I've added a CH2and thickened the bonds in the backbone.
In the above figure the new structure has been selected (use your mouse to draw a selection rectangle around the entire molecule) and regroup clicked on. The resulting structure may be moved, stretched, shrunk etc. You can ungroup move, delete, copy and paste parts and group together as often as needed.
Personally I find this easier if I don't have the drawing program up and running.


03/01/99 to 03/04/99