Uploading to SlideShare
Navigate your browser to http://slideshare.net. You'll need a SlideShare account. Once you've logged in you'll be able to upload your presentation:
Select My Slidespace from the menu at the top of the page:
Click on the Upload your first slideshow now link:
Use the Upload page to choose your presentation and upload it to SlideShare:
Once the file is uploaded, you can specify how it can be shared. Note that you can choose to make the presentation private (you don't have to make it available to the entire world):
When you are done with the details, click on the Publish button. The presentation needs to be converted so that SlideShare can display it correctly. This can take a while, but you can check the status to see how SlideShare is getting on:
Once the presentation has been converted, it's ready to view:
That's it! The presentation is online and ready to go.
Here are just a few of the advantages of using SlideShare to include your presentation in a Moodle course:
- Your students may not have PowerPoint installed on their computers nor be aware of the special player they can download (check out the Microsoft website for details). That's no problem! SlideShare will play the presentation for them.
- You don't have to worry about file sizes. The presentation is stored on SlideShare's computers and not in your Moodle.
- Using SlideShare's built-in tools, it's easy to create an audio commentary (more on this in the next section).
But there can be disadvantages. For example, I tried making my presentation more engaging and entertaining by including animations (which is good if you are a visual/spatial learner). However, in SlideShare those animations no longer work.
So, how do you actually include a SlideShare presentation in a Moodle course?
Let's do this now:
SlideShare provides a fragment of web page code along with each presentation:
Right-click on the code, and choose Select All followed by Copy.
In your Moodle course, you can include the slideshow using the HTML editor. I'm going to include the presentation on a Moodle web page. Click on the Toggle HTML Source button:
Cursor to the end of the page's HTML code, right-click and select Paste:
Click on the Toggle HTML Source button again and the slideshow gets displayed in the editor:
It's that simple!
Look for embedded code in your favorite content sharing websites (for example, YouTube).
Audio commentaries and SlideShare—slidecasts
We've already seen how we can record an audio commentary using Audacity. I've mentioned that you can create an audio commentary (or slidecast) using SlideShare. Let's do that now. I can use the recording I made previously to narrate the presentation uploaded to SlideShare:
Return to your my slidespace area. Click on the Edit link under your presentation:
On the Edit Slideshow Details page, click on the Create Slidecast tab:
The Create Slidecast page is displayed. As the instructions on this page recommend, you will need to upload your commentary to the Internet. You won't be able to use Moodle, as your course files area isn't accessible outside of Moodle (that's one of Moodle's vital security features). I'm going to upload my narration to the Internet Archives You'll need a registered account to do this. Simply follow the instructions to upload your file:
Copy the link to the audio file to the Create Slidecast page (if you are using the Internet Archive, then the individual audio files are listed at the bottom of the archive page). Click on the Link mp3 to slideshow button:
Once the audio is processed, the Synchronization Tool is displayed. Use the tool to associate a slide with the correct fragment of audio:
Once you are happy with your new slidecast, click on the Save & Publish button in the bottom-right corner of the page:
Return to your My Slidespace page. Click on your presentation. You will now see a note in the corner of the presentation:
That's it. We're done!
Before we leave our discussion of SlideShare, make a note of the SlideShare sidebar. If you've more than one presentation in your course, it can make finding the right presentation easier for your students. Visit http://www.slideshare.net/widgets/blogbadge for more details.
Converting PowerPoint to Moodle—more options
So far, we've just been uploading our PowerPoint presentations as is (as a PPT file). That's not the only way. Here are a few more options:
- Convert to a PDF: You will need Microsoft Word 2007 or later, OpenOffice or a PDF printer installed. Remember that you may lose those pretty animations and transitions, so it is best to try the conversion first to test the result.
- Convert to images: This is a good option if you don't want students to cut and paste text.
- Convert to web pages: You can also cut and paste text into Moodle web pages.
- Convert to Flash video: A free conversion tool called iSpring is available from iSpringSolutions (http://www.ispringsolutions.com/products/ispring_free.html). The great thing about iSpring is that it preserves your animations.
- Convert to SCORM: It isn't free, but a popular tool for converting presentations to SCORM is THESIS (http://www.getthesis.com).
Including YouTube videos
Do you want to include a video in your course? There is a plethora of video sharing websites available (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_video_sharing_websites), but the most popular has to be YouTube. There are dozens of Pythagoras-related videos on YouTube, and one that always keeps my classes entertained is Darth Vader Explains the Pythagorean Theorem by Mister Teacher (also known as John Pearson) from learnmegood.com:
The problem I have is that, although I can get access to YouTube at school, my students can't (my staff login is different from a student account). How do we overcome that problem? The best way is to extract the video from YouTube and upload it to our course files area. We can then link to it and have Moodle embed a video player, just as it did with its own audio player in the previous section. Here's how to achieve this using Keepvid.com:
Your Moodle admin will need to enable the FLV filter in the multimedia plugin to have Moodle embed the video player in your Moodle page.
I've got the Darth Vader Explains the Pythagorean Theorem video open in my browser. I'm going to open a browser window (you could use another tab if your browser supports them) and navigate that window to http://KeepVid.com:
Copy the web address of the page in YouTube containing your video into KeepVid's URL edit box:
Click on KeepVid's DOWNLOAD button. You will be provided with a set of links allowing you to download the video to your computer:
I'm going to download the Low Quality FLV file and rename it accordingly. Once downloaded to your computer and renamed, upload it to your course files area. I'm uploading the file via a web link on a Moodle web page:
For more details on how to create the link, see the "Including your presentation and audio file in a course". Once the link is created, Moodle can recognize it as a link to a video and embed a video player:
It's as simple as that! If you would rather have the video without the associated Click here link, see Linking to a PowerPoint presentation and Audio file.
With my staff account I can access YouTube videos that my students, with their restricted logins, can't access using the college computers. So, I've used the free, online service KeepVid.com to extract a great video explaining the Pythagorean Theorem from YouTube and included it in my course. Before doing so, I've checked with the video's creator to make sure that's ok with him (and Mister Teacher has kindly let me use his video in this article). Because my Moodle admin has enabled the FLV filter in the Multimedia Plugins module, Moodle has spotted the link to the video and automatically included a video player in the page.
Looking for a video sharing website dedicated to educational content? Check out TeacherTube at http://teachertube.com.
Don't get caught out with copyright
As a matter of courtesy if nothing else, you should always ask the permission of the creator of the video before including it in a course. For example, I emailed Mister Teacher to ask if it was possible to include his video in this article. If you are not sure about copyright and licensing, then consult the librarian or information officer employed by your establishment if one is available.
Never finding exactly the right video to include in our courses might lead us to wondering how we can create our very own math videos. One option is to do what many teachers and lecturers seem to do: set up a camera in front of your interactive white board and record yourself giving a short lesson on a math topic. If, like me, you are a little camera-shy and don't really want to be onscreen (and not wanting to give your students the opportunity of having fun with your face in Photoshop), then a good alternative is to record a screencast—a recording of your desktop as you describe what you're doing on it. That could be, again, narrating a PowerPoint presentation or, more usefully, if you have a graphics tablet you could be narrating working through a math problem as you draw it onscreen. If this is an option you would like to explore, then Jing (a free, cut-down version of the popular Camtasia Studio software) is available for Windows and Macs (http://jingproject.com). If you are a Linux user, then recordMyDesktop (http://recordmydesktop.sourceforge.net/about.php) and Xvidcap (http://xvidcap.sourceforge.net/) are popular options. If you're thinking about video editing software and you are a Windows user, then look no further than Windows Movie Maker—the free movie editing software that comes as standard. If you're a Mac user, you'll have access to i-movie.
Incorporating third-party content
Publishers are becoming more aware of virtual learning environments (VLEs), like Moodle, and they are beginning to provide materials in VLE-friendly formats. For example, most documents are provided in PDF format (publishers like this format because files can be copy protected), activities are provided in SCORM or Flash format. The formats publishers choose are nearly always generic, and it would be unusual if your students needed to install special software on their computers in order to view it. If you aren't sure of the format of files you want to upload, then it's well worth checking with your admin.
Avoid uploading large documents to your Moodle course. Your Moodle's file upload limit might prevent you from doing this. (In versions of Moodle prior to 2.0, you are not warned if you are going to exceed the limit before the upload commences.) Furthermore, your students won't be happy if they have a slow Internet connection and it's a large file you are expecting them to download.
In this article, we focused on converting static resources over to Moodle—of the kind we math teachers typically want to move online. Specifically we covered the following:
- Creating math-related PowerPoint presentations and, using the content sharing web site SlideShare, including them in our Moodle courses along with a suitable narration
- Extracting math-related videos from YouTube and learning how to include them in our courses
- What a screencast is and how it can be used to explain mathematical concepts
After looking at static resources, let's think about the interactive resources we can convert to Moodle, specifically Flash and SCORM activities.
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