UIC TA Handbook – Visual Presentation Technology

By Ulric Chung

Former Assistant Professor, Pharmacy Practice
UIC College of Pharmacy


Using Media in the Course


Using visuals is not about using new tools but using tools in new ways. The purpose of visuals is to support the content you are presenting and to reinforce learning. Before you begin designing visuals, consider your educational objective.

  • What is it that you want your students to know from your class?
  • What do you want your students to remember from your presentation?
  • What learning outcomes do you want your students to demonstrate at the end of class?

When planning visuals for your class ask yourself the following:

  • Will using visual technology improve my teaching?
  • Will using visuals enhance my students' abilities to learn?
  • How easily can visuals be incorporated into my current teaching?
  • Which visual medium will best illustrate the points that I want to make?
  • Is my choice of visual medium cost-effective?

Remember that the visual medium can enhance or detract from the information that you want to transmit.  Visuals can be used for the, following:

  • Illustrate ideas and difficult or complex theories.
  • Show spatial/visual relationships.
  • Demonstrate steps.
  • Reinforce concepts and aid memory.
  • Stimulate interest.

Prior to the presentation

  • Give your students cues about the organization of the presentation. For example, display a slide or prepare a handout showing an outline of the topics and subtopics for the entire presentation.
  • Keep visuals simple, concise, and legible. Photocopies do not always display well when projected. Redraw them if necessary.
  • Prior to making your presentation, arrange overhead­ transparencies or slides in order, making sure that your notes match the sequence.
  • Write notations in the margin of your notes to inform you when to put up the next image, or use cardboard frames on your overheads and write the notes for each overhead on its frame.
  • Inspect the room and test the equipment in advance. When setting up projection equipment, check its focus on the largest image to be used so that you can be sure that it will fit on the screen.
  • Have a small light so that you can read your lecture notes. Rehearse and time your presentation.

Things to Do During the Presentation

  • After putting up a new image, wait briefly for students to absorb the content before you begin speaking; also give them sufficient time to copy the material if you do not pro­ vide handouts.
  • Occasionally, talk about the next slide or overhead before it appears to keep student's interest. Remove an image after talking about it. Turn off projectors when not in use to keep students from being distracted.
  • Since note-taking may be difficult in a darkened room distribute a handout or make photocopies of your image material available in the library. Distribute complex diagrams in advance to assist note-taking and tell students when they do not need to take notes.
  • Students may not be able to see what you are referring to if you use your hand to point to information on the screen. Use a pointer, moving it slowly and deliberately so that students can track the information on the screen.
  • Stay involved with the audience. Maintain eye contact as much as possible.

Know Copyright Regulations

  • Not all materials may be copied or shown in class freely.
  • Check with the Library to make sure you know the current copyright regulations.

Overhead Transparencies

  • Can be used like a chalkboard.
  • Display prepared text, diagrams, charts and illustrations.

Making Overhead Transparencies

  • Create overhead transparencies by writing by hand or prepare them using word processors or commercial presentation-software packages, like "Power Point" or "Persuasion." If your printer does not allow you to use transparency acetate, make a paper printout first; then use a photocopier to print onto the acetates. Make sure that your transparency acetate is suitable to be used in a photocopier or a laser printer. The wrong type of acetate may buckle or melt, causing damage to your equipment.
  • Overhead transparencies are best used horizontally. Work within a 7.5 x 9.5 space if your projector has a 10x10 image surface.
  • Limit the amount of information on a single transparency to one theme, using a maximum of 20-50 words or 24-30 pieces of data.
  • Test out various letter sizes and fonts for your display. If you are using printed fonts, make sure they are plain (without serifs or embellishments). Use upper and lower case letters which are 1/4 to 1/2 inch tall.
  • Line spacing should be 1.5 times the letter height for easier reading. Use a lined sheet of paper as a guide when making hand-written transparencies in advance.
  • Use color and graphics to add interest and emphasis. Use titles, headings, or colors to emphasize key information.
  • Put transparencies in cardboard frames to make them easier to handle.

Using Overhead Transparencies

  • When changing overheads, avoid exposing the light to the audience by placing a new overhead on the projector before removing the previous one.
  • Use a clear plastic top sheet on overhead transparencies that you intend to reuse so that you can write impromptu comments without damaging the originals.
  • Overlay several transparencies to illustrate changes, processes or alternatives or use two or more images for comparison and contrast.
  • To focus a student's attention project only one item at a time when revealing a list.
  • Keep a blank transparency to solicit ideas and expand concepts.

35mm Slides

  • Display pre-prepared photographs, text, diagrams, charts and illustrations.

Making Slides

  • Create 35mm slides by using a slide maker attached to a computer and commercial presentation-software pack­ ages e.g. "Power Point" or "Persuasion" or photograph documents and artwork using a copystand. Keep text simple and concise, using 5-10 words per idea. Display 5-6 words per line or 36 words per slide (excluding the title} using plain letters.
  • Letters should be about 1/15 the height of the slide. Limit using slides of hand-written text.
  • Use graphs and diagrams instead of tables. Light text (yellow, orange, pink) on a dark background (blue, green, black) will project best.
  • Place a dot on the bottom left-hand corner of the front of each slide frame. Load slides so the dot appears in the top right-hand corner.

Using Slides

  • Slides and lecture should complement each other. Group slides together rather than dispersing them throughout the lecture. When you have too many slides to fit in one tray, divide the sets at logical breaking points. Vary the slides, showing 6 to 8 per minute to maintain audience attention. Avoid backing up to a previous slide unless answering a question.
  • Avoid turning the projector on and off during your talk. Use darkened slides instead. End with a darkened slide to prevent temporary blindness.
  • Use remotes to control projectors (use wireless remotes if at all possible). Use two projectors for comparison/contrast.
  • Run through slides prior to the formal presentation or class.

Computer-Based Multimedia

  • Can be used like a chalkboard.
  • Display prepared text, diagrams, charts, photographs, and illustrations.
  • Present dynamic information, such as simulations that are changeable depending on input from the presenter and students.

Making Computer-Based Multimedia

  • Use commercial presentation software packages, e.g. "Power Point" or "Persuasion." You may also display applications such as spreadsheets or software you have programmed using authoring systems and programming languages.
  • Refer to information regarding overhead transparencies and slides above.
  • Using Computer-Based Multimedia
  • Refer to information regarding overhead transparencies and slides.
  • Place the equipment so that you can move about freely without tripping over cords and so that it does not separate you from your audience.

Video and Films Purpose

  • Presents information and content for which movement is essential.

Making the Video/Films

  • Making your own videos is possible. Use consumer video cameras or iPad.
  • Preview the material before showing it to the class to determine whether it fits your objectives
  • Create pre- and post-viewing activities which involve the material.
  • If the film/video is important enough to show in class, then make sure that it is included in class evaluations. (Clearly indicate this to your students in advance.)

Using Video/Films

  • Prepare students before watching a video or film. Explain why it is being shown and what they are expected to learn.
  • Preview, view, review, and interrupt the film/video as necessary to point out important information.

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