Interactive Presentations

By: Professor Jennifer Hirashiki

How do you engage students in your classes?  Do you incorporate interesting slides and embed questions in your presentations? When we make teaching slides for class, it can be easy to overwhelm our students with so much information and actually remove authentic moments of interactivity and engagement.

Check in with Students

Spend a few minutes checking in with your students in a warm up activity.  Add a fun check-in question or meme to your slides to start engaging students from the beginning.

Change Things Up!

Using the same template and strategies every week?  Try changing it up each class.  While you don’t need to completely reinvent the wheel, there is benefit to the element of surprise in classes.

Embed Questions

It can be easy to just get through the content with students. It is also tempting to keep the class on pace by having a lecture-heavy class session.  By including questions on slides, it serves as a helpful reminder to slow down and let the students talk and interact with the content. It also helps students who need a minute to see and think about the question before jumping in.

Layer Technology

There are a lot of interactive features to add into presentations. Pear Deck is a fun formative assessment add-on tool that can encourage participation in multiple ways, through polls, brainstorming, and embedded questions.

Math Equations or EqatIO are excellent tools for those quantitative courses to create problem sets and examples.

You can add countdown timers to PowerPoints for classroom management and group work. PollEverywhere can be added to a slide for students to give their answers and opinions.

Include Relevant Videos

Adding short videos to your presentation is the perfect way to provide variety while enhancing interest amongst your students. Videos grab students’ attention and give you as a facilitator a wonderful visual resource to liven up your sessions! Be careful not to use videos that are too long (2-6 minutes). Also, make sure that the video you select supports your presentation, as it should not replace it. Finally, always design an interactive activity to accompany the video. A good idea is always divide this activity or task in 3 parts:

  • Pre-watching: Elicit information related to the video. Ask students to guess what the video will be about, etc.
  • While-watching: Design easy to complete questions to check for understanding. Students need to complete these while watching the video. Keep in mind they need to know what exactly they should focus on before you play the video for the first time.
  • Post-watching: Add a Pear Deck interactive slide to your presentation with fun and engaging questions concerning the video, design a slide with an infographic student will complete after watching the video. You can do two things for this: First, design your presentation on Google Slide and share with the whole class so, when necessary, all students complete activities on a selected slide. Second, on Zoom, you can also give a few students control on your screen for them to input their answers.

Be Different

Think about how your synchronous (online or on-ground) class will be different from a recording.  Are you engaging students, incorporating their participation and ideas into the class?  How can you make the most of that live class time?