Academic Technology @ Palomar College

PowerPoint 2013: WordArt

PowerPoint 2013: WordArt
An advanced form of text editing in PowerPoint is called WordArt.  Some truly spectacular textual effects can be achieved with WordArt, while the text retains its characteristics as text (can be spell checked, font sizes can be changed, case can be changed, new text inserted, etc.).  Nevertheless, these effects don’t have much of a place in a well designed, professional presentation.  They should be used sparingly, and only for special emphasis.  This post will in brief review where the WordArt settings and controls can be found and applied.  We will get to a discussion of shape effects—which...
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World War II on the iPad

World War II on the iPad
A search on World War II (world war ii, world war 2, ww2, etc.) at the app store will yield scores of apps over several app categories, only two of which, in my opinion, are worthwhile. First the categories:  By far the category leader is games.  You will find game titles like “World Conqueror,” “Little Commander,” “Fighter Pilot Killer Air Combat,” “World War 2 Assault,” “Commando Global Assassin,” and on and on.  Stop wasting time and money on this nonsense.  Sit down with your kids and explain why war, and especially this cataclysmic war...
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PowerPoint 2013: Basic Text Editing

PowerPoint 2013: Basic Text Editing
As mentioned in previous posts, if you are going to edit text in a PowerPoint presentation, it is better that the editing be done on the slide master, so that 1) your edits will propagate through the entire presentation.  Sometimes this is just not possible, especially with reference to text in text boxes.  You may want to color a single word in a text box differently than the rest of the words, or bold or underline a word, or expand character spacing for a group of words, or whatever the case may be.  This post discusses these basic text edits, which are common Word text formatting tasks also.  It is...
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PowerPoint 2013: Embedded Fonts

PowerPoint 2013: Embedded Fonts
To wrap up our discussion of fonts, let’s try to decide whether we should embed fonts within our presentation when we save.  You may want to present on another computer than the one you used to develop the PowerPoint presentation, and each computer’s font set may be different.  To be sure you will have the correct fonts so that your presentation will look as expected on another computer, embedding may be necessary.  Before launching into the discussion, however, you need to know that you can only embed TrueType fonts in a PowerPoint presentation (.ttf) and that embedded fonts in a Windows...
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PowerPoint 2013: The Replace Fonts Command

PowerPoint 2013: The Replace Fonts Command
Here is a practical tip that can help you redeem a presentation when someone (not you, of course) has used an outlandish font in text boxes or even in bulleted lists.  Remember, your goal in placing words on a PowerPoint slide is to communicate a point, and to do so the text you use must be legible.  Therefore, weird, hard-to-read fonts should be avoided at all costs.  Unfortunately, humans being what they are, many people seem drawn to cursive, fantasy, gothic, or otherwise nearly illegible fonts.  PowerPoint provides a quick remedy for this, however.  It’s called the Replace Font command....
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Blackboard Thing of the Week: Tour a Sample Course Structure

Blackboard Thing of the Week: Tour a Sample Course Structure
Way back in May of 2012, I posted on a new addition to Blackboard, Course Structures. However, I haven’t seen any faculty really putting these to use, so I wanted to showcase at least one structure. In the video below I use the organization by Chapter (which, for any class based around the textbook, works fairly well), and show off a bit of the sample content and my thoughts on the mindset behind the structure. In particular, points I like in the structure are: The default entry point is a module page optimized for student use. The syllabus information is not a single linked document, but...
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PowerPoint 2013: Font Basics

PowerPoint 2013: Font Basics
Each design theme has a font family defined for headings and for body text.  The same font family extends to text entered into text boxes and on shapes and SmartArt.  The simplest way to control font family throughout a presentation—which is a good idea, because it gives a consistent, professional look to the presentation—is to stick with the default font choices already built-in to the font themes used in PowerPoint 2013.  This is a rule more honored in the breach than the observance, unfortunately, because people just seem to have a thing about unusual font choices, but if good advice can prevail, I...
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New Blackboard Test Deployment Options

New Blackboard Test Deployment Options
With our latest Blackboard upgrade (to version 9.1 SP12, to be specific) the system has some new test deployment options. Now, I know what you’re thinking, the options that already existed were good enough, why does Blackboard have to keep getting more complex, grumble grumble. But I’m here to tell you that these changes are actually for the better, and will address needs that have been unmet but often requested by quite a few faculty over the years. First off, no test deployment options have been removed. Existing tests will continue to function the way they were originally set up, no...
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Blackboard Grade Center Icons

Blackboard Grade Center Icons
As I write this post, the latest Blackboard upgrade here at Palomar is still in progress. So the next time you hop into the Blackboard system, you’ll just head into a Grade Center and see all the familiar icons like the green exclamation point that means Needs Grading, right? Nope. Several icons in the new version of the Grade Center appear very different now. (The Grade Center itself isn’t significantly changed, but the look is different with these new icons.) So be warned, you’ll likely have a few jarring “what is THAT?” moments for a while during visits to the grade...
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PowerPoint 2013: Adding Text to Shapes and SmartArt

PowerPoint 2013: Adding Text to Shapes and SmartArt
Text can be added to drawn shapes and to SmartArt, a special case of drawn shapes.  In either case, text entered in this fashion will not show up in Outline View.  Usually text placed on drawn shapes is brief, like a label or flowchart process, text placed on SmartArt however, can be more expansive because the SmartArt will scale the text to fit within the shapes that comprise the illustration.  Here is how to place text on drawn shapes, and then on SmartArt. Text on a Drawn Shape Most of the shapes drawn using the Shapes tool on the Insert tab (there is also a Shapes gallery by default on the Home...
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