Apps in Action: Creating Engaging Keynote Presentations

Keynote is my go to presentation app. It creates visually stimulating presentations with ease. It already comes with a number of fantastic themes pre-installed, my personal favourite of which is Photo Essay:
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Before you choose a theme, you may notice at the top that you can choose either Standard or Wide. In my classroom, I have an Apple TV connected to a projector and if I am creating a Keynote to show I opt for Wide as it appears larger on the screen. However if I am creating a Keynote that will be viewed on an iPad, I opt for Standard as it takes up the whole screen. I would recommend checking which of these views works best with your own setup before creating a whole range of Keynote presentations. Once you have chosen your theme, all you need to do to create stunning presentations is change the images and text to suit. I suggest using the highest resolution images you can find as they will look best when projected onto a screen.

Transitions and Builds
As well as engaging the viewer through its visual appeal, Keynote also features a number of high quality builds and transitions. These can really enhance presentations and give them that extra bit of sparkle.

There are two main ways I use builds and transitions. Firstly, I mainly use builds to reveal new information. For example, if I set a task which has multiple steps, I might display the instructions on a slide but set the build in to reveal each bullet point in turn. I find that this focuses learners on a specific area rather than them getting ahead of themselves. Another is hiding information behind an image and then applying a build out to the image to reveal the concealed information. I’ll often use this when I set a task which includes success criteria. I’ll introduce the task first and then discuss with students what they feel they would need to include to complete this task effectively before revealing the success criteria.

One transition which I use regularly because I think it is fantastic is Magic Move. Magic Move moves objects from their positions on one slide to new positions on the next slide (see how it works here). The simplest way to do this is to create a slide and add objects to it, then duplicate the slide and modify the objects on the duplicated slide. Anything which appears on both slides become part of the transition. Any objects appearing on the first slide, but not the following slide, fade out, whilst objects appearing on the following slide, but not the original slide, fade in. I’ll often use this feature for tasks displayed which require sorting or rearranging information. I’ve used this to display anagrams of keywords for learners to solve and then using Magic Move to rearrange the letters and reveal the words. I find this is particularly engaging as students can actually see the sorting process happening before their eyes, which makes a difference.

I feel that the animations you choose are not as important as the way you use them. Eventually, you’ll find out what works best for both you and your students. However, one would of caution, do not animate or build every object on a slide: use them sparingly and only when appropriate. The two main reasons for this are that overuse can sometimes cause unnecessary distractions, especially if you have objects flying all over the place and also too many animations becomes tedious for the viewer rather than engaging.

Presentation Tools
As well as creating content, Keynote also contains numerous tools to help you deliver presentations as effectively as possible. When your Keynote is being delivered via AirPlay, the iPad goes into presentation mode. This includes a handy clock at the top which can either display the presentation delivery timer or a clock displaying the actual time. By default, the display will be show the current slide, however the user can choose a series of layouts to best suit their individual preference:
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My preference is either Current and Next, so that I know exactly what is coming up. Another option makes use of presenter notes, which I’ve found effective as a way to record a series of key questions for discussion prior to a lesson. Also, the user can quickly navigate to any point in their presentation by swiping from the left and choosing the slide of their choice:
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However, one of the most newest and I feel the best features are the inclusion of drawing tools:
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I believe that these are fantastic tools for educators. I have used these tools to annotate images and texts, edit and draw diagrams or add notes all in real time. I’ve even asked students to annotate an image by giving them my iPad and using these tools. One way I’ve used these tools which has been effective is by annotating an image with what learners know as a starter and then revisiting it at the end and adding changes in a different colour to show the learning. When I demonstrated this feature to staff at my school, some asked whether the annotations are saved to the presentation. They are not and I personally think that is a good thing because I want learners to do the work, not simply see annotations I have already added. However it is possible to save anything produced for future reference simply by taking a screenshot. To do this whilst the slide is displayed, press and hold the Sleep/Wake button on the top of your iOS device, then immediately press and release the Home button.

Conclusion
As impressive as Keynote is there are a few simple features I would love to see Apple include in their iOS offering. Firstly, I really wish they gave the user the ability to change the background colour of a slide. If you embed a video into a presentation theme with a white background, but the dimensions are too narrow to fill the slide, you’ll end up with two white bands running alongside the video which can be a distraction. Whilst this can be overcome by drawing a rectangle shape and filling it with the desired colour before sending it to the back, it is not ideal. Secondly, on the note of videos, it would be great if the presenter had the ability to pose or scrub to points within an embedded video. This would be particularly useful as an educator since it would enable you to discuss any points with a class that arise at the time, rather than at the end of the video. Finally, once a presentation has been created, it would be nice to be able to change the theme if necessary, something which is possible on the Mac version.

pr_sourceKeynote by Apple is available for £7.99/Free* on the App Store.

*This app is available for free from Apple when you upgrade to iOS 8 or buy a new device with iOS 8. To qualify for this free app, you need a device that was activated or purchased on or after September 1, 2013.

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