PowerPoint is currently rolling out the new Live feature, which includes several capabilities that are even more valuable during these days of remote learning. I am excited that Day 110 of 365 Ideas for Microsoft 365 is about PowerPoint Live.
This is a web-based function so you will only find it in the online version of PowerPoint. You will find it under the Slide Show tab in the ribbon, alongside other recent new features in PowerPoint, Subtitles and Rehearse with Coach.
On the presenter’s side of things, it is called, “Present Live”. As you will see, the audience view is called PowerPoint Live. (I went with the jazzier title.)
Next to “Present Live is a dropdown that lets you choose whether you want to make this available only to people in your organization, or to anyone with the link. Obviously if you choose the former, they will have to log in to view.
Once you determine that setting, you can click on Present Live. Just to warn you of a small nuisance, in my experience I usually have to do this twice to get started, and in between I am prompted to log into my Microsoft 365 account. Hopefully your experience will be without that glitch. Now the magic begins.
Running a Live Presentation
Your presentation will open in a view similar to Slide Show view, or the Slide Recording view in the desktop app, but not precisely. It also adds an opening screen that you can redisplay at any time with the url to join the session. Simply share the url to allow others to view.
Once you get past this opening screen, there will be a tool bar at the bottom of your screen. This is where to go if you want to copy the url to share digitally.
Accessibility features- near point
What this does is it allows viewers to see your PowerPoint on their screen. From an accessibility viewpoint, it brings it from far-point to near-point. That’s not the only thing it does, but you will probably be more impressed by the other features and not notice this point. As the presenter clicks to move to the next slide, the viewers also advance to the next slide. However, as a viewer, you can also go back to any previous slide. You can’t skip ahead, but you can review. If you do, you will then see the option to click to rejoin the presentation on whatever slide the presenter is currently on.
The most obvious feature, though, is that you will see a transcript on the right side of your screen of everything the teacher/presenter has said. This includes everything he or she said since they started the live presentation, so if you join late, you can still go back and read that. As the teacher progresses through the slides, the transcript labels which slide the class was on when the teacher spoke those words. As with any dictation service, the accuracy depends on how clearly the presenter speaks, how good the microphone is, and proximity to that microphone. Once again, this feature is all about accessibility. In the classroom, it is like having closed captioning for what the teacher is saying live.
Choose your Language, also Live
At the bottom left corner of the transcript window is yet another accessibility feature. Each viewer can choose what language they want the transcript to appear in on their screen! There are currently 62 options! PowerPoint has had the ability to display subtitles in any of about 70 languages for a while now, but if it only displays on the teacher’s screen, I have to choose one language. I couldn’t accommodate a student who is hard of hearing in English, and also display for my native Spanish-speaking students. With Present Live, everyone’s unique needs can be met.
The last feature is live feedback. With a nod to social media, students have 6 animated emojis they can click on at any time, and they will appear at the bottom of the presenter’s screen, float part way up and vanish. The teacher can ask for feedback at a specific moment, and students can give a thumb’s up or confused. Students can also send these (anonymously) at any time. Because they only go about a quarter of the way up the screen and disappear, they are noticeable, but unobtrusive for the speaker. (I mention that for those of you who teach middle school!)
Another aspect of the feedback is that there is a survey at the end of the presentation, which is actually a built-in Microsoft Form. Each time a teacher uses Present Live, a Form is added in their Microsoft Forms in Microsoft 365. The name matches the name of the presentation.
The teacher can pause the presentation for up to 30 minutes, during which time viewers can review all the slides and transcripts. Once the teacher ends the presentation, students lose access to everything. That means if this is a slideshow students need to have continued access to, then after the live presentation, the teacher needs to share the PowerPoint using more traditional methods, like distributing through Microsoft Teams or embedding in a OneNote Class Notebook.
One other note- there are drawing tools on the presenter’s screen, but the ink only appears on the teacher’s screen, not in the Live view on student screens. I’m hoping that is temporary, but right now the inking would require students to look up at the teacher’s screen, so that feature is only useful in the same room.
PowerPoint Live provides several additional accessibility features to PowerPoint in the classroom. Tune in next time for a discussion on the specific benefits of PowerPoint Live during remote learning!
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