I have been experimenting lately with using PPT as a simple animation editor. This functionality has been around for a long time, but I have only started using it recently. The first animation I created was a short cartoon used to tell my students about an upcoming assignment. I thought it would be more entertaining to do it this way, and the students could watch it multiple times. I did notice a decrease in the number of e-mails from students asking for clarification, and some of the students mimicked this technique in their final projects. This is the highest form of flattery, right? Or kissing up. You can see this movie here.
More recently, I created a simple animation to demonstrate the concept of scope and sequence. Thankfully, I saved the original PPT file, and I intend to go back in and modify it a little bit. But you get the point. I didn’t make a big deal of it in my class, but the students had access to the animation and watched it on their own. A couple of them gave me feedback that they thought it was cool. That wasn’t my objective, but I was glad to know they enjoyed it.
If you are interested in doing something like this, you will first need to learn how to use the Custom animation tool in PPT. This is something you can look up on the Web, and there are several good tutorial out there. Then, you will need a plug-in to save the PPT file into a SWF animation. I use the free version of iSpring, but you may know of other tools. I will probably be making more of these in the future, especially as I move some of my classes to the online environment. I have found that technology used in this way actually helps students in both types of classes, so whether you teach online or F2F, this is worth exploring.