Monday, February 15, 2016

Personalizing Animated Step-by-Steps™ Made Easier!

If you are willing to devote the extra time, you can modify your Animated Step-by-Steps™ to include personal photos of your students. It’s a great way to heighten engagement.

I vividly remember the first time I used the interactive whiteboard to present a story that had been personalized with the photo faces of students in the class.  I was richly rewarded with their squeals of sheer delight …. the question, “How did I get in the story? … and my personal favorite …. “ How you do dat?” 

What child doesn’t like to see themselves in a starring role on either the big screen (interactive whiteboard) or the little screen (iPad)? The extra time needed to personalize a product is well worth the effort, but I am fully cognizant of the fact that it does require a fairly sophisticated understanding of PowerPoint to efficiently make the changes necessary for personalizing the product.

First you must change your .pps file (PowerPoint Show) into an editable .ppt file. This can easily be accomplished by re-typing its end designation, i.e., the letters following the period. Make a copy of your ASbyS files to be on the safe side. 

As indicated above, simply click on the name of the file, then select just the pps letters that occur after the period in the name. Change these letters to ppt. This changes the file from a ‘show version’ to a ‘editable version’. If you have the more current version of the PowerPoint, I suggest you open this newly minted .ppt file from within PowerPoint. This will allow you save the file in the newer version of PowerPoint, i.e., the .pptx format. Under File on the PowerPoint menu bar, select Open,  then navigate to your recently modified file.

If the file name is not showing you will need to change the default setting. Here are some general guidelines for both Mac and Windows:

For Mac

Click on your desktop to bring up the Finder menu
Click on the Finder (next to the apple icon in the upper left corner) in the menu bar
Select Preferences in the drop down menu.
Click on the Advanced Tab
Select the option Show all filename extensions

For Windows

Go to Startup button (bottom left of screen)
Choose Control Panel
Click on Appearance and Personalization
Select Folder Options
Click on View Tab in the dialog box
Uncheck the box that says Hide extensions for known file types (scroll down in list)
Click OK

Here’s the additional and perhaps most daunting challenge …

When you ungroup the existing face from the firefighter’s body … you lose the animation(s) that were previously created for that grouping. You must then substitute the face of your student for the existing face … group the new face to the old body  … redo two animation(s) (sliding on to the page; sliding off of the page)…. and make sure the new animation(s) are correctly inserted back into the animation lineup for the page.

Yikes that’s a lot of meticulous work!

Is it possible to change out the photo face … without having to redo the animation sequence?

At long last …  I’ve finally figured out how to do this!

Here’s how its done …
  • Select the grouped item (typically the body + face).

  • Click a second time on the face of this selected group and you should now see two boxes highlighted (one box represents the body, the second box is the face).

  • I think it is less confusing to do the ‘photo face transplant’ when the face is clearly on the top of the stack.

  • In some ASbyS, e.g., Get Up and Dance the photo face already lies on top of the group; in others the photo face lies beneath , e.g., 10 Brave Firefighters. If the latter is the case you must move the photo face to the top of the stack. To do this you must right click on the top image and select Arrange then select the command move backwards. This alters the arrangement so the photo face is now on top.

  • Now that the photo face is on the top of the stack, right click on the face (control click on mac) and select the command, Change  Picture. Navigate to the photo you wish to bring in as an alternative; click on the Insert button. 

  • Presto!  The new face appears in the group (note: because you are working with a grouped item you should always see two selection boxes. 

  • While still selected you can optimize the size and placement of the face. You can even rotate or flip the image horizontally to allow the image to be better integrated with the body. In 10 Brave Firefighters, the photo face must then be sent to the back to create the impression that the child is wearing the firefighter hat.  Right click on photo face and select send backward.
Congratulations!  You have successfully replaced the illustrated face with a photo face of your student …..  without disrupting the animation sequence!   … Hours saved!!!!!!

Now that I have figured out a process for making personalizing easier, I’m sure I will be designing content differently re: how I group faces to bodies to make the process even more effortless for those of you who wish to personalize content.

Summary: I have agonized over how to make the process of personalizing ASbyS easier for quite some time. Finding a relatively simple solution to a long standing quest is a beautiful thing!  

… ’til the next post …  (new posts every Monday)
Next week's post will provide information on how to create photo faces with transparent backgrounds. 

Follow me on twitter @AnimStepbySteps

©2016 Carol Goossens’, Ph.D.
Augmentative Communication Consultant
Speech-Language Pathologist
Special Educator

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