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Digital Skills for Teaching & Learning: How to Present with Google Slides or Powerpoint in its Own Window

A little background

EDIT (06/07/2020): Now with added PowerPoint!

I've taken part in a good number of online discussions, seminars, conferences and the like since our Lockdown period started and on the whole it's all been very good, with incredible use of broadly (and often freely) available use of resources to turn an experience that could be flat and impersonal into a very positive one. There are a few things that niggle me, however, and I've been looking into overcoming them, especially as I've been moving into this online teaching lark as well. I thought I'd post about some of the things I've found out and include a few "how to..." walkthroughs. This is largely so that I can find these things again but I realise there may be others out there who might benefit.

Thoughtful transitions can be used to make slides clearer and less cluttered. Losing them can make a big difference.

If that's you, fill your boots! Also ask questions if I'm at all unclear, miss out an important step, or say something you don't understand. If I get something wrong correct me; if there's an easier way let me know!

Death by Clunky Powerpoint

One of the things I've seen a lot of is slide presentations such as Powerpoint being "presented" outside of their presentation mode. You know the thing: you've got the chat window snapped to the top-right of your screen; some presentation notes in the top-left. You've got some snazzy slides set up, but if you "present" it goes full-screen and you can't see anything else. So you keep your slide deck editor of choice open, share that window, and lose the ability to include transitions or to reveal text or images in any kind of order. It looks clunky and a lot of the already limited screen space is taken up by menus, previews of other slides, and dead space lying between them. But we accept it because these are trying times and you deal with the tech you've got to hand.

We've all seen it: clunky online slide presenting because bits of the screen are needed for other things.



What if there was a solution? What if there was something that you could do to neaten things up yet keep bits of your screen available for notes, chat windows and cheeky background games of solitaire.

Well... I wouldn't be writing this if there wasn't one, would I?

Saved by the Goog

I don't know how to make this work with Powerpoint or Impress (or if it's even possible) because I haven't tried. Google Slides has its weaknesses but this particular feature is REALLY useful going forward into our New Normal. It's also free.

It's possible to put a Google Slides presentation into "presentation" mode without taking up the whole screen. This has changed my digital teaching life.

How to do it

You will need

  • A slide deck created in Google Slides.
  • A browser. I'm using Chrome; I'm assuming it works in any browser that will run Google Slides. Please let me know if it doesn't.
  • Edit 06/07/2020: Or a Powerpoint Presentation

Method (Google Slides)

  1. Open up your slide deck as if you were going to edit it.
  2. Click the "Present" button in the top-right (or press Ctrl+F5). The presentation will go full-screen.*
  3. Move your mouse around. The control bar will make itself visible at the bottom (see fig. 1). Notice the third symbol from the right: three right-angles forming a cross with the dead space.
  4. Click it! Or press Ctrl+Shift+F.
  5. It'll shrink down to a not-screen-filling size. Move it around, resize to your heart's content, or snap to the edges of your screen to make it fill up half or quarter of your view: it's just a normal browser window.