Creating Presentations

William Thomas grave along I-90

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If you get off the interstate at Reed and head west on the old frontage road, about three miles east of Grey Cliff you’ll pass an old highway marker.

Text of historical highway sign: In 1866 William Thomas, his son Charles, and a driver named Schultz left southern Illinois bound for the Gallatin Valley, Montana. Travelling by covered wagon they joined a prairie schooner outfit at Fort Laramie, Wyoming, and started over the Bridger Trail. The train was escorted by troops detailed to build a fort (D.F. Smith) on the Big Horn River.

From the site of this fort the Thomas party pushed on alone. A few days later they were killed at this spot by hostile Indians. Emigrants found the bodies and buried them in one grave.

The meager details which sifted back greatly impressed William Thomas’ seven year old nephew. Seventy-one years later (1937) this nephew closely followed the Bridger Trail by car and succeeded in locating the almost forgotten grave.

Posted by Michael L Umphrey on 05/02 at 12:49 AM
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©2005 Montana Heritage Project

Film shorts

I wonder whether the Monday evening time slot at the YHF could focus on watching two or three short documentary films (10-30) minutes, probably in two or three different rooms, so people could get up and walk a bit to rotate through them. Ideally, we would have students in small enough groups that we could facilitate a discussion so kids aren’t just passively watching. Here are some likely possibilities.

shorts! volume 1

Posted by Michael L Umphrey on 04/11 at 10:31 AM
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©2005 Montana Heritage Project

Creating presentations without Powerpoint

The simplest alternative to PowerPoint is to create webpages:

Web browsers do most of what PowerPoint does. They display text in various sizes and colors, show images (including animations), and play video and sound with standard plug-ins. Most computers in lecture rooms have one or more Web browsers preloaded on them, and it is as easy to display Web files as it is to show PowerPoint files. Your files can be on a CD-ROM, a portable disk, or even on a distant server accessed over the internet if the lectern computer has a fast internet connection.

Browsers can not only emulate much of PowerPoint, they can also do things that PowerPoint does not. They can have multiple windows open simultaneously, allowing you to activate slides as you need to by clicking on them while still keeping other windows in view. Windows can be different sizes if you wish to have big points and little examples. A table-of-contents window can be on screen at all times, allowing you to jump spontaneously to different topics. The windows can have multiple links to successor pages if you wish to decide which slide to show at the time you are speaking. Your examples can be Web pages from other sites, which will launch quickly because you are already in a browser. You can also effortlessly put your presentation on your own Web site for the audience to review later, since it is already in Web format. Full Article, “A Flexible Alternative to Powerpoint,” by Richard Olivo, Derek Bok Center, Harvard University

Here’s an example of a very simple presentation done as web pages. If you go to view / full screen in your browser menu bar, you’ll get rid of most of the peripheral navigation bars on your browser, giving you a pretty simple look. You can, of course, add pictures or even sound and movies to pages. If you use a cascading style sheet, your pages will all have the same look with very little time or effort.


Users of the Opera browser have even better choices:

When you view an OperaShow presentation in the Opera browser, it looks like any other HTML file. That is, until you press the F11 key. Doing this puts the browser into full-screen mode and displays your slides in the same way that you’d expect a PowerPoint presentation to appear.

Once very useful aspect of OperaShow is that you can have both your slides and presentation handouts in one file. Thanks to some simple CSS tricks (explained later in this article), the Opera browser can hide the handout content when you’re viewing slides, and vice versa. In this article, I’ll create one file that contains both handouts and slides. Full article by Scott Nesbitt.


Or create flash presentations using freeware. PowerBullet is both free and powerful. Online Help


Articulate isn’t really an alternative to Powerpoint, since you use Powerpoint to create the presentation. But then it lets you output your presentation as a flash file, including audio, for web.  It seems similar to Macromedia Breeze, though for about $500 rather than the $9,700 Macromedia wants.  Here‘s a review.


Review of Adobe Acrobat, Macromedia Flash and SkunkLabs Liquid Media as alternatives to Powerpoint.


Reviews of presentations software.

Posted by Michael L Umphrey on 01/01 at 03:35 AM
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©2005 Montana Heritage Project