All about PowerPoint: Communicate More with Less

It’s no secret that most instructors use PowerPoint for their lecture presentations, but how effectively are you communicating with PowerPoint? With a few weeks into the semester, we thought this would be a good time to revisit some basic principles of good PowerPoint design, which is why we are launching…

Communicating Visually Part I:  A PowerPoint Design Series

PowerPoint is a tool meant to visually support a presentation, so with PowerPoint, you are entering the world of visual design. The role of a visual designer “is to convey complex stories and ideas visually in such a way that the viewer can nearly instantly comprehend the information being presented.1” There are certain principles to consider when designing a PowerPoint presentation so that your ideas are clearly communicated to your audience.

Principle #1: Communicate More with Less

If you only change one habit in PowerPoint, make it this: put less stuff on each slide. Everyone has seen or created the slide with a list of bullet points, such as the following:



When a slide like this is presented in class, students cannot be expected to attentively listen to the lecturer while frantically reading and copying a slide full of text. That being said, students want access to the lecture text as it helps them understand what is important. Faculty and presenters may also need the bulleted list to keep the lecture on track. To solve this dilemma, presentation coach, Dave Yewman, shares the following tip:

TIP #1: “Hide the Slide”

Go ahead, create a slide with all the facts and bullets you want…BUT hide it from view during the presentation. According to Yewman, you can easily do this in PowerPoint’s slide sorter view – “in PowerPoint’s slide sorter view right-click on a slide and you’ll get an option to hide the slide. It will still be there in a printout or an e-mailed slide deck – but you won’t have to subject audiences to all those bullet points2” during your presentation.

ptt_hide_slideThat’s genius! Simplify the slides displayed during your presentation while providing the detailed slides for reading later, not during the lecture. This way, you can transform your busy note-takers into active learners in your lectures.

TIP #2: “Hide YOUR Notes”

Another great tip allows you to place notes for yourself in the NOTES pane of a slide without these being projected for your audience. To do this, use the Presenter View mode when you give your presentation, so only you will see the notes. Of course, you can always print out a separate set of notecards for yourself if you prefer3.

Exception: Learning Objectives

While it is best to hide detailed text during most presentations, lengthy bulleted lists are suitable in your learning objectives at the beginning of an online educational setting. Learning objectives alert your audience to what they are expected to be able to do after your lecture. You will cover a lot of material, but the learning objectives describe what is to be learned from that material and help guide your online audience to key points in the online lecture.


  1. Brewer, Joshua. (2010, April 11). A picture is Worth a 1000 Words, Except When it Isn’t. Retrieved from
  2. J, Arun. (2008, July 15). Slide Tips: Dodging Bullet Points in Powerpoint Presentations. Retrieved from
  3. Effective Use of PowerPoint. (n.d.). In UCF Faculty Center for Teaching & Learning. Retrieved January 12, 2015, from

Create Checklists with Wunderlist

With our daily obligations and responsibilities, all of us understand how staying organized is fundamental to being efficient and effective. Many members across campus collaborate with one another or manage projects that involve different tasks, and it can sometimes be nearly impossible to keep up with all of those responsibilities. In “The Checklist” from The New Yorker, Atul Gawande describes how something as simple as a checklist can have a huge impact on successfully accomplishing all steps of a task.

“Good checklists, on the other hand are precise. They are efficient, to the point, and easy to use…they provide reminders of only the most critical and important steps….Good checklists are, above all, practical.”

- Atul Gawande, The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right

With the advent of smartphones and sophisticated applications, we are equipped with better tools to manage our tasks and reduce stress…introducing Wunderlist!


Wunderlist is a free, easy-to-use task management app within a simple interface that can help you be more productive. You can create lists of tasks, add reminders and deadlines, and share them with others for collaboration. One of the great features of Wunderlist is that it is a cross-platform application that allows you to share and sync your data across all your devices. This means that you can create and access your to-do lists on the go!

Here are key points and a quick video on using Wunderlist:

  • Available anytime, anywhere, and on any device
  • Share and collaborate with classmates and colleagues
  • Email extension to send tasks to Wunderlist
  • Browser extension to add websites to Wunderlist
  • Notification reminders of tasks, communications, and accomplishments
  • Built-in communication tool for collaborative discussions

Also check out how to add tasks to Wunderlist through a browser extension!

You can download Wunderlist to any of your devices and sync your data with your email address. It’s that easy!

google_play       app_store

Tutorial by Jess Stratton

Jess Stratton, via, gives a great demo using Wunderlist:

Consider using Wunderlist to stay organized, on-task, and meet requirements and deadlines on time! Wunderlist keeps your life in sync (Wunderlist).

More on Wunderlist

Track Classes with UNC Class Checker

Students, classes may have already started but are you still trying to get into some classes? Make your life a little easier with an app called UNC Class Checker! Class Checker is a free service that notifies students when classes change status (e.g. from “Closed” to “Open”) via text message or email depending on your preference ( This service is run by your very own peers (just three UNC students!) and Information Technology Services, so you can rest assured that it is tailored toward student-specific needs.

Instead of frantically checking ConnectCarolina for open seats, let Class Checker instantly notify you when a class status changes!

How It Works
Tracking classes on UNC Class Checker is easy! You can track classes, change the type of notification you want to receive, view reports of all the classes you’re tracking, and untrack classes once you have finally gotten into the class.


Here’s how to track classes from the Class Checker homepage:

  1. Click on Track my classes
  2. Enter your name and click continue (optional)
  3. Select to receive email or text notifications, enter your email or phone number and carrier provider, and click continue
  4. Enter the class IDs you want to track (click on “+” to add classes) and click submit

NOTE: Class Checker can only track labs and recitations with an “L” at the end of the course number, such as CHEM 241L-401.

classchecker_labMeet the Class Checker Team

A small group of Carolina students began developing the Class Checker app from information they gathered from University public resources. About a year ago, ITS Enterprise Applications joined the student developers for a collaborative effort on expanding the project. In the following video, Maribel Carrion, Director of Business Applications in Information Technology Services, and the student Class Checker team–Kevin Anderson, An Li, and Joe Puccio–discuss the UNC Class Checker app.

See the full Q&A with Maribel Carrion on ITS News.


Redesigned Sakai Homepage

The Sakai homepage has been given a fresh, new look in time for a new semester and a new year! We are very excited with this redesign and the improvements it will bring to our users. You will find:

  • Simplified outline with a focus on frequently used functions
  • Easier navigation with big icons in the middle of page – quickly register for consultations, access help and tutorials, and view blog
  • Combined pages for important policies and information, including accessibility, UNC Honor Code, and Sakai maintenance (Thursdays 5-7am)
  • Login buttons are still in the same place


Let us know what you think on our Sakai Feedback Form!

Sakai Help Sessions

Spring 2015 classes begin next Wednesday! If you need assistance with setting up your Sakai course sites, we recommend registering for our upcoming Sakai Help Sessions in the House Undergraduate Library!

Intro to Teaching in Sakai [Register]
Tuesday, January 6
2pm – 3pm
UL 034

This workshop is designed as a crash course for instructors teaching in Sakai for the first time or those who need a refresher.

Drop in for Sakai Help [Register]
Friday, January 9
10:30am – 12pm
UL 034

Drop in any time at your convenience from 10:30am until noon with any last-minute Sakai questions.

We hope to see you there! Don’t forget to publish your sites to give students access!

Carolina is #1 Again!
In case you have not heard, Carolina is once again ranked at the top as the best value in American public higher education – for the 14th time in a row – according to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. Congratulations, UNC! Here’s to another exceptional year!

See more details on UNC’s Spotlights.

Fall 2014 Semester in Review

Congratulations on another successful semester, especially to all the students who graduated this past weekend! Let’s officially wrap up the Fall 2014 Semester with a look at some of UNC’s most popular learning technologies.

Virtual Lab

If there is one secret all students should know about, it’s Virtual Lab! Need to use software for class but don’t want to pay for a license? Virtual Lab is your solution! There are over 60 programs available on Virtual Lab, which can currently support 200 simultaneous users. Here are the top ten most used applications for Fall 2014:

vl_usage_fa14See all Virtual Lab applications available to students.

CCI Printing

CCI Printing offers students the convenience of 50+ campus printing locations with allocated printing funds each semester. Below you can see how many pages were printed at each campus location (excluding residence halls). The top three locations (Undergraduate, Davis, and Health Sciences Libraries) account for nearly 70% of all printing on campus! Students, you will likely find no lines at other locations, so we invite you to check them out!


We had a total of 2,354 instructors and 3,909 courses in Sakai this semester–up 93 courses from Fall 2013! Check out which tools have seen the biggest jump in usage compared to a year ago!

Here is a full view of Sakai tool usage for Fall 2014:

sk_tool_total_fa14And there you have it! The Spring 2015 Semester will be here before you know it, so now is a great time to get started on your courses! Instructors listed in ConnectCarolina can go ahead and create their Sakai course sites.

Please note that we will be doing maintenance work outside of our regular maintenance window next week on Monday, December 22, from 8am until 10am to keep our systems up-to-date. There will be an outage so please plan accordingly.

From all of us at Teaching & Learning, have a wonderful and safe holiday season!


                                     Image by Chris Pirillo on flickr (CC BY)

Final Grades Due + Sakai Help Dec 5

It’s hard to believe but the end of another semester is upon us! Final Exams officially start tomorrow (see Final Exams Schedule), which means final course grades are due! Instructors have 72 hours after the scheduled time of their final exam to approve grades in ConnectCarolina. Here are some Sakai Gradebook tips for getting your grades finalized.

Sakai Gradebook Checklist

Particularly with large classes, it is easy to miss entering certain grades. Here is a quick Sakai Gradebook Checklist to verify all scores in your Gradebook are accurate.

We highly recommend that you check out our **Sakai Blog** for full details on this checklist!

  1. Verify all grades are entered
  2. Check items are included in final grade calculations
  3. Set ungraded items to 0
  4. Release final grades to students
  5. Export grades for ConnectCarolina

Please note that the Gradebook will only calculate items that contain scores. Even if a student has earned a 0 on an assignment but no “0” has been entered in the Gradebook, Sakai will essentially ignore that item until a score has been entered. See step 3 in the above checklist to automatically enter 0’s in ungraded items. Be sure not to complete this step until all grades have been entered!

View Grades as a Student

In case of any discrepancies, it is useful to know what students see when they access the Gradebook. Check out our step-by-step tutorial or the below video for instructions on viewing the Gradebook as a specific student.

Sakai Drop-in Help Session

Have last-minute Sakai questions or need help finalizing your grades? Sakai experts will be in the House Undergraduate Library Room 034 this Friday from 2-4pm. Feel free to stop by at your convenience for Sakai assistance. Please register for the event to ensure a consultant will be available to meet with you.

We can help you:

  • Set up your Gradebook
  • Enter and finalize grades
  • Return student course work in Assignments
  • View stats on students for the course
  • Create Spring 2015 course sites
  • And much more!

If you have any questions, please contact the ITRC Help Desk at 962-HELP or Good luck with finals!

Schedule Meetings with Doodle

With people’s busy schedules, it is often difficult to figure out the best time to get everyone together for a meeting. Ongoing communications to find the right time for everyone can be cumbersome and time consuming, which is why we like to use Doodle! Doodle is an easy, FREE scheduling app that simplifies the process of scheduling events through polls.

Here is some more information and a quick video on Doodle (About Doodle):

  • No registration required by poll initiator or participants
  • Synchronizes with calendars (Exchange, Outlook, iCal, etc.)
  • Free service offers basic features needed to initiate and organize event
    • (Paid) Premium account provides professional booking services with customized themes and no ads

Easy Scheduling

You can set up your Doodle poll in just a few, simple steps:

  1. Select Schedule an event on
  2. Enter General info about your event
  3. Select Time Proposals and enter any necessary Settings
  4. Send the Invite!

It is that easy! Here is an example of a Doodle poll:


Keep in mind that the poll feature is not limited to just a date and time of an event, but you can also use it to conveniently plan your event. For example, a group of students may set up a poll to decide on a group presentation topic for class or Faculty members may decide on what to discuss in their departmental meeting. You can also use Doodle as an online appointment booking system or to assist with organizing your work schedule.

Mobile Friendly

There are several features in Doodle that make it easy to schedule events.They have a mobile interface that works across multiple browsers and devices. Doodle even has native apps that allow you to create, view, comment, poll, and sync your events with personal calendars and an address book. Download the Doodle app on your mobile device for quick and easy access!

google_play       app_store

Consider using this smart assistant to save yourself time and ultimately bring people together, whether it is for a conference call, meeting, or a quick gathering!

More on Doodle:

UNC Goes Mobile

carolinagoHave Carolina at your fingertips with the new UNC mobile app, CarolinaGO! CarolinaGO is a student-led project between Student Government and ITS that serves as an information hub that “fills the gaps” for students, faculty, staff, alumni, and visitors alike (About CarolinaGO). Download the app on your iOS or Android phones for quick references to Carolina resources. You can also access CarolinaGO at:

Here are some exciting resources to look for that can help make your academic life at Carolina a little easier!

Stay on Top of Your Academics

Browse Course Catalog
Home > Course Catalog

With Spring 2015 course registrations now open, finding your courses on the go has never been easier! You can search the Course Catalog by department and see specific details on course sections with the schedule, class location, and instructor.

NOTE: ConnectCarolina is the most reliable source for course searches.

sakai_mobileLink to Sakai
Home > Links > Academic Links > Sakai

Get linked to Sakai, which is now also mobile friendly! You can check your course syllabus, readings, and other course content. If you prefer to view the full Sakai site on your mobile device, you can always Switch to Full View at the bottom of the page.

NOTE: We highly recommend grading, posting, and  submitting assignments and tests in Sakai on a laptop or desktop computer.

Check the Academic Calendar
Home > Calendar > Academic Calendar

It’s hard to believe but classes end in less than a month! Check the Academic Calendar to see when classes end, exams begin, Reading Days are scheduled, and other important University dates.

Getting around Campus

Get to class on time!
Home > Bus Tracker

Whether you commute to campus or need to get from one end of campus to the other, you won’t have to be late! The Bus Tracker will show you a real-time map of current bus locations, all bus stops, and the next bus arrival time.

cci_mapCCI Printing on the go!
Home > Links > Technology Links > CCI Print Locations

Need to do some quick printing in between classes? Avoid those long lines! Link to the CCI Printer Map to see all the printer locations and real-time printer statuses. You can also access the map at this link:

If you are on campus, you can share your location to find the closest printers to you. The map also refreshes automatically every two minutes for the latest status updates.

Open Library Hours
Home > Links > Library Links > What’s Open

Staying up late to do some studying? See what libraries are open on campus!

There are several other useful tools available in the CarolinaGO app, so you should check it out! If you have any questions, just contact the ITRC Help Desk at 962-HELP or You can also find this information on CarolinaGO in the Tech Links!

Sakai Virtual Conference Nov 7

sk_virt_conf_2014Join us and the rest of the Sakai Community around the nation for the Sakai Virtual Conference where we will be Bridging Education with Technology! This faculty-friendly conference is targeted toward the teaching and learning aspects of Sakai with an emphasis on pedagogy and best practices, however there will be some technical topics covered. Faculty members, support and technical staff, and instructional designers are all encouraged to attend!

Stay in the comfort of your office or home as the conference will be held completely online next Friday, November 7, from 9am until 5:15pm. You are welcome to tune into any sessions that interest you throughout the day. Registration is $50/person for full access to all sessions. See the Sakai Virtual Conference website for full details!

Here are some possible sessions of interest (full schedule):

Keynote Presentation

Instructional Design/Support Track

Faculty Course Showcase Track

Technical Sessions Track

Effective or Innovative Practice Track

Small Group Interactive Track

This is just a small fraction of all the available sessions next Friday. There are 40+ sessions, so you’ll be sure to find topics of interest! See the full schedule here. Stick around till the very end of the conference for prize drawings for some Amazon gift cards!

Check out TLI Staff in our Sakai gear. We’re ready for the Sakai Virtual Conference and hope you’ll join us!


ITS Annual Report: 2013-2014

its_report_13-14The ITS Annual Report is in! See what Information Technology Services has been working on in 2013 and 2014, with special highlights on Teaching & Learning!

As the report states:

ITS is building a new, higher standard of connectivity in both on-campus and digital classrooms…we focus on how technology can enhance learning objectives and create a richer student experience.

See the full report here.

Classrooms Go Digital

As we previously mentioned, several campus classrooms have been undergoing upgrades since this summer, including the addition of new Document Cameras. This new equipment is part of a multi-year project of converting 200 analog rooms to digital, ten of which were completed this summer! All 200 analog classrooms are scheduled to be completed by mid-August of 2016. Here are some key points:

  • classroom_before_afterWe now have 56 digital classrooms
  • 21 rooms with only a chalkboard converted
  • 13 rooms outfitted for web conferencing with cameras and ceiling mics, ranging from 15-seat to 190-seat rooms
    • New Doc Cams enable web conferencing
    • Allows for guest speakers and subject experts in the classroom!
  • Added HDMI cable outputs to project tablets and smartphones
  • 232 new wireless access points to bring wireless internet to 182 classrooms!

Don’t forget that red telephone in the classroom! Any time you need assistance, just pick up that red phone to connect directly with the Classroom Hotline. Because the Hotline monitors classroom equipment remotely, chances are that we may have already discovered and fixed the problem before the classes started, allowing you to focus on what’s truly important–learning in the classroom!

MOOCs at Carolina

If you have not heard, there has been a big movement towards Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) in higher education these past few years. UNC became a part of the MOOC Movement in 2013 by offering several MOOCs through Coursera.

By the Numbers

  • mooc_unc7.5 million Coursera learners
  • 160,000 students enrolled in UNC MOOCs to date
  • 190 Countries represented in UNC MOOCs
  • 30% Students from emerging economies
  • 38,000 Students currently “watching” UNC Course MOOCs for new offerings

Check out Coursera to see all the MOOC offerings by UNC! They are FREE and open to anyone. Here is some more information on MOOCs in higher ed:

Sakai Migration

The Blackboard to Sakai Migration officially ended early January 2013, which was a collaborative effort between numerous people across campus to provide support to Faculty, Students, and Staff to make way for the new learning management system at UNC. The transition included many outlets of support, several of which are still available to the UNC Community today

Way to go, Carolina! It’s been a great year for teaching and learning!

“Building on success…is an atmosphere of collaboration that we foster at ITS
and with our students, faculty, staff and broader community.”
- Chris Kielt, UNC Vice Chancellor for IT and CIO