How to Make Great Presentations

In this post, we will discuss how to utilize PowerPoint and/or Google Slides to create an informational and visually effective presentation that will generate the optimal level of student learning engagement and retention.

Because this is a lengthy post, feel free to navigate to the topics of interest in the table of contents below, as well as be navigated back to the top at the end of each section.

We will touch on the following points:

Table of Contents

When creating a presentation, it is important that the audience is in mind, the presentation is message focused, and that the information is presented in a clean, clear format. Knowing visual design concepts alongside presentational skills available on popular presentation platforms such as PowerPoint and Google Slides are vital to ensure your information is presented clearly.

Storytelling Structure

Creating a memorable and effective lecture is almost like crafting a story. Here are a few key points to keep in mind when considering the storytelling structure of a lecture or lesson.

Put the audience first.
Remember that your story is their story, meaning that though this lecture is coming from your knowledge and perspective, the goal is to have your students understand and relate well enough to envision the knowledge as their own. When creating a lecture, make sure to keep your audience in mind.

Have a solid theme and structure.
A theme can be as simple as the main subject point of the day’s lecture–however, it is important to have a clear and set theme in which each sub-point is constantly reconnected toward. The structure can be as simple or as complex as the instructor desires, but it must help build his or her narrative. The more details and complexity included in the lesson, the more important it is to have a clear theme so your students may hear, understand and remember your points.

Hook them early, and add emotion.
Though somewhat cliche, it is often helpful to begin a long topic with an engaging anecdote. Individuals are more likely to engage and retain information on topics that they resonate with, so adding an emotional hook with story examples or a brief anecdote may increase your chances of having a more responsive audience. Otherwise, throughout the presentation, attempt to keep only one or two points on each slide, along with visuals that illustrate the message (more details on these topics to come later in this blog post).

Click here to go back to the Table of Contents!

Graphic Design


Typography can make or break the presentation. Choosing the right font (proper typeface and proper sizing) is important in determining how efficiently a student can read, decode and process the information presented on the slides. 

In terms of typeface selection, the general lesson is: good fonts are invisible, while bad fonts are noticed right away. For beginner designers, stick to Helvetica, Arial or Proxima Nova.

When considering font size, ensure your text big enough in order to ensure readability on your screen or projector even in the back of the classroom. For titles, 30pt minimum is suggested; for main text, size 18pt minimum is recommended.

Notice the difference between the first and second slides presented below in terms of readability in typeface and font size selection.

Once you get more advanced, you can start to play around with whatever readable and compatible fonts you like. Keep in mind that for screen projection, sans serif type faces are preferable, as serif is mainly used for print. However, sans serif and serif fonts are compatible when wanting to contrast titles and body text.

Notice the visual hierarchy created with these two different fonts and boldness selection. We will go more in depth on hierarchy in the next section.

Text Hierarchy

The amount of text you include on your slides and the way you present them contribute greatly to the way your readers take in your information. Text hierarchy revolves around the perception of importance. You can stress the importance of points in many ways, such as making the font larger, bold, a different color, etc.

When designing slides, make sure to keep in mind good visual hierarchy so you can be confident that the right elements are catching the students’ attentions.

In general, it is better to bullet your points instead of including full, complete sentences on the slide. This will ensure that your students are paying attention to you and your lecture, rather than simply attempting to read the text on the slide.

Notice how in the first slide, complete sentences overwhelm the reader and make it difficult to understand what facts are key pieces of information. In the second presentation slide below, the points are bulleted and the key takeaways are highlighted in a bolder typeface of the same family as well as with color (we will go more in depth on color in the next section).

In this last example, notice how the incorporation of more than one visual aids separates the points by categories, alongside the subheading in a bolder, larger font. The sub-point in the last bulleted statement is in a smaller font, showing that it holds the least amount of importance on this slide.


In a perfect world, we would all have the time to learn the basics of color theory. Though seemingly intuitive, figuring out which colors are compatible is harder than it seems.

The easiest rules to remember are those of complementary colors and analogous colors. Complementary colors are those that are on opposing sides of the color wheel (for instance, Christmas’s green and red, or Pepperdine’s blue and orange). Analogous colors are any four slices on the wheel that are directly connected to one another (such as “yellow” all the way to “red-orange”).

Don’t worry, color theory memorization is not required to create a great presentation. If you would like to experiment with color, Adobe Color allows you to select any color on the color wheel and will automatically provide you with compatible colors based on your selection.

In terms of perception, brighter, more vibrant colors often come across as more playful, while darker colors often feel a little cooler and usually more professional.

Notice how in the slide below, incorporating a complimentary color theme and visual hierarchy makes the slide seems more professional and more engaging.

This slide was created with the help of a free template. Powerpoint and Google Slides both have pre-generated theme templates that are easily accessible. SlideCarnival is a reliable site with more options that may be downloaded for Powerpoint and/or Google Slides.

Click here to go back to the Table of Contents!

Incorporating Visuals

To breathe life into an ancient cliche, a picture is worth a thousand words. This is even more noteworthy when presenting information to an audience. Though a picture may not give all of the detail needed to grasp a concept, a picture will act as a visual image to aid in the memory and understanding of whatever topic presented, as long as it is related.

Overall, the best visuals are often the ones that are simply designed. If your image is too large, the audience may tend to focus on it and be distracted from the key information.


One of the only times suggested to use a large image, or background picture, is for introductory slides. This image paints a foreshadowing picture of the topic, as well as leaves room for the instructor to provide a preliminary lecture for the upcoming section.

It is often handy to incorporate visual images in presentations, whether that be through pictures, icons or data displays. It is pertinent that the image is directly relevant to the topic discussed on the same slide to aid in consistency and lecture retention.


Visuals should always help illustrate the point. If desired, icons can be the extras that make your presentation fun and visually pleasing. Much like images, icons should always directly relate to the point being presented.

You can download free icons online through reliable sites, such as TheNounProject, FlatIcon, or IconFinder.

Charts, TABLEs and graphs

You can also use visuals to conceptualize big numbers and data.

Click here to go back to the Table of Contents!

Multimedia Elements

Multimedia elements can be extremely useful and memorable ways to convey information. If there are certain videos or audio clips that you would like to incorporate into your presentation, it may behoove you to embed them into your slideshow rather than disrupting your flow by exiting out and opening a new window.

Aside from videos and audio clips, you can also incorporate gifs by downloading them off reliable websites, such as, and importing them as if they were ordinary images.


1. On the slide that you would like the place an audio or video clip, select “Insert” at the top left of your menu bar on Google Slides.

2. For this guide, we will select “Video.” A new window will appear with a title of “Insert Video.” From here, you may either search for a video on Youtube, copy and paste a video URL, or import a video from your Google Drive.

3. After choosing your video and embedding method of choice, click “Select” to have your video placed on your side. Feel free to resize and reposition your video to your liking.

4. Notice that a new menu titled “Format options” now appears to your right side. Here, you can adjust the settings of your video, such as whether you would like the video to automatically play once you enter this slide, when the video should start/end, etc.

VIDEO Instructions for Microsoft Powerpoint

1. On the slide that you would like the place an audio or video clip, select “Insert” at the top left of your menu bar on Powerpoint.

2. Navigate to the right side of the toolbar that has now been presented. Here, you will see the options to either import your video or audio of choice.

3. For this guide, you may select “Video” and have the drop-down menu appear. From these two selections, you may either use “Movie Browser” to search your computer for movies (iMove files, Adobe Premiere files, etc.) or “Movie from File” if you would like to import a video saved from your desktop.

Note that, unlike Google Slides, you are not able to search a video on Youtube or simply link a URL. This will mean you need to take a few extra steps for inserting a specific video from online that you desire. You may download the video off Youtube through any reliable Youtube to MP4 converter, such as, or find a free, downloadable source.

Click here to go back to the Table of Contents!


Transitions are the potential effect selections you may choose as you move from one slide to the next. It is advised to either choose one (or no) transitions throughout the entirety of the presentations for consistency, or mindfully choose a transition for a specific slide to illustrate a memorable point. This is due to the fact that though continuously changing transitions may be fun and quirky, they have the potential to seriously distract your audience.

transition instructions for google slides

1. If you would like to emphasis a certain slide with a transition, go on the slide you wish to have a transition effect on in Google Slides. Select “Transition” at the top of your menu.

If you would like to set one consistent transition throughout your presentation, you may click on “Transition” as well.

2. From here, a new menu will appear on your right. Under “Slide Transition” you will see that you can select your desired transition, as well as dictate the speed at which the effect will occur by moving the yellow bar.

By selecting the drop-down menu, you will see a list of possible Google Slide transitions. By selecting “Play”, you may preview the effect. The button titled “Apply to all slides” will automatically set this effect to all slides in your presentation.

transition instructions for microsoft powerpoint

1. If you would like to emphasis a certain slide with a transition, go on the slide you wish to have a transition effect on in Powerpoint. Select “Transitions” at the top of your menu.

If you would like to set one consistent transition throughout your presentation, you may click on “Transitions” as well.

2. By selecting the dropdown menu under the transition images, you will see the entirity of your transition effect options.

3. On the right side of your transition options, you will see a variety of transition preferences you may adjust, such as how this transition will occur and for how long.

If you would like to set a general, consistent transition effect across your entire presentation, select “Apply To All” on the far right of the menu.

Click here to go back to the Table of Contents!


Animations are movements that can be applied to objects within a slide. Since animations are pretty fun, it’s easy to get carried away. Animations are best used when it relates and enhances the message presented and you want the audience to remember the point you are making.

We will now give you two examples and step-by-step instructions on how to properly incorporate animations in your presentation. Though one set of instructions will be for Google Slides and another for Microsoft Powerpoint, the concepts and procedures remain the same on both interfaces.

animation instructions for google slides

Sometimes, it’s beneficial to not have all of your information presented on the screen at once, so students can focus on one point at a time instead of haphazardly attempting to copy all information provided in their notes. For this example, we will be using the timeline icons slide. Having a point on a timeline appear on-click is a very common way to guide discussion.

1. Go on the presentation and slide in which you would wish to have animations.

2. Highlight the object(s) you would like to be animated. In this case, we are highlighting the text boxes, bar, and circle icon all together to be animated as one cohesive object.

3. With the object(s) still selected, you may release your click and navigate toward “Animate” at the top of Google’s menu bar.

4. Now you will see a “Motion” menu pop-up on the right side. This is where you can adjust the animation settings. Because we mass selected objects, you will see each object and their coinciding default selection. Click the arrow on the left to see a list of animation details.

5. If you click the arrow next to the “Fade In” option, you will see a drop-down menu of all potential animation selections for an object. For our purposes, we will leave it at “Fade In.”

6. If you click the arrow next to the “On Click” option, you will see a drop-down menu of all potential selections for when the object will animate. For our purposes, leave the selection to “On Click” for the first selected object on the top.

7. The right-hand bar in yellow indicates the speed of which these animations will move. For our example, you may leave the animation at it’s default pace.

8. For the latter objects, make sure that the “On Click” selection is set as “(With previous)”. This will ensure that all objects will appear at the same time, instead of staggered.

9. Apply steps 2-8 to the next timeline objects.

10. Now, when you press “Play” or present your slideshow, you will see that the animations will appear on each click.


1. Go on the presentation and slide in which you would wish to have animations.

2. Highlight the object(s) you would like to be animated. In this case, we are highlighting the text boxes, bar, and circle icon all together to be animated as one cohesive object.

3. Next, select “Animations” on the top of your menu.

You can now see all of the default animation selections at your disposal. Since we are trying to represent the fact that “water positively increases nutrient mobility in the body,” the “Rise Up” animation will help illustrate that point.

You will now see a new menu appear on the right of your presentation. This will show all of the objects that you have animations on this particular slide. Notice the tabs titled “Effect Options,” “Timing,” and “Triggers.” This is where you may adjust the details for your animations.

You will also notice your selected objects on the slide having numbers next to them. Since they are grouped as one, all of these objects will have the number “1” next to them, meaning that they will be the first to animate. These numbers will not appear when you present the presentation.

4. Under “Timing,” it is preferential to select “On Click” so your animation will happen on the command of your click.

You can also see the same options appear on the top right of your menu bar.

5. Now, this “Rise Up” animation can be shown through a trial play through of your presentation. On your click, the selected objects should now move themselves up to their establish position.

Click here to go back to the Table of Contents!


Hotkeys are keyboard shortcuts. By clicking these letters and/or symbols at once, you may conduct an action in one press that may have taken you several clicks. Though seemingly confusing and hard to memorize at first, after frequent practice, hotkeys are incredibly useful for speeding up the presentation creation process.

KEYBOARD SHORTCUTS for microsoft powerpoint

Below is a list of the most popular hotkeys/shortcuts used for creating Powerpoint presentations. For a complete list, visit Microsoft’s blogpost by clicking here.


Below is a list of the most popular hotkeys/shortcuts used for creating Google Slides presentations. For a complete list, visit Google’s blogpost by clicking here.

Click here to go back to the Table of Contents!


Using Your Cellphone as a Document Camera in Zoom

As we adapt our teaching styles to fit with the digital world, it is useful to know that there are many ways to utilize Zoom to replicate typical classroom technology. With a smartphone, a computer and the Zoom software, you can incorporate a document camera into your lectures. This article will guide you through the steps on how to download, install and use your smartphone for this purpose.

Image courtesy of SquareCap

A document camera, also known as a digital overhead, is an electronic imaging device that can project or display on a screen whatever is being captured through a connected camera.

Typically, a phone stand is useful when using a smartphone adaption of a document camera. You may browse through numerous options online to find one that best suits your needs, or check out this one from the photo above.

How to Turn Your Phone into a Doc Cam by Signing into Zoom with Two Devices

Teachers who are utilizing online meeting platforms such as Zoom have likely found that the built-in whiteboard is not easy to use, unless paired with a tablet built for this purpose. Thankfully, since most phones have high-quality cameras that can project well on the computer and visible to students on their screen, you can join your Zoom meeting with your cellphone as a second device that may act as a document camera.

To use your phone as a document camera at home, follow these steps:

  1. Log on to Zoom at using SSO and join/start a pre-existing meeting, or create a trial meeting.

However, first, make sure that your Pepperdine Zoom account has been properly activated. For more information on Zoom for faculty, please click here.

2. Next, start or join your meeting from your computer as normal.

3. Now, transition to your phone. Go to your device’s app store so you may search and download Zoom.

First, there are two main tips we ask you to consider while using your phone as a second device for a document camera:

  • Whether on an iPhone or Android, go to your settings menu, and set your brightness and screen settings to never turn off in the display preferences. This will ensure your screen will not go dark while streaming.
  • We also recommend turning off notifications while you are teaching to prevent potential disruption, or even using an old phone that is not connected to your data plan. 

Note, the screenshots shown below visually represent the process for an iPhone, however, the general steps are practically the same for an Android device.

Once found, select “Download” or proceed to re-install the app if you have already installed it previously.

4. Once installed, find the app on your home screen and select the icon to open Zoom on your mobile device.

5. Once opened, you will be presented with a screen that asks you how you would like to proceed. Select “Join a Meeting” at the bottom of the screen.

6. Much like another meeting participant would join your Zoom Meeting, enter the Meeting ID that you created and/or distributed to your students.

You may also find the specific Meeting ID to your Zoom meeting at the top center of your active meeting.

7. Before selecting join, make sure that you select “Don’t Connect To Audio” on your second device. This will ensure that there will not be an echo when you continue to lecture.

8. Now, you may click “Join.”

9. Going back to your computer or primary device, notice that your “Manage Participants” icon is orange. This shows that your second device is now waiting to be admitted into your meeting.

Select “Manage Participants” to be directed to the waiting room options. Click “Admit” for your cellphone device.

10. Depending on your personal phone settings, you may get three pop-up windows at this time: click your preference when asked if Zoom may “Send You Notifications,” click “OK” when asked if Zoom may “Access the Camera“, and click “Don’t Allow” when asked if Zoom may “Access the Microphone.”

11. Now, you have two devices at your disposal: the camera that is broadcasting your face, and the camera that is broadcasting whatever view is on your cellphone. You should notice that your Zoom screen is broadcasting the same visual that your smartphone camera is showing.

Place your phone on whatever object you choose to have support your camera (whether that be a phone stand, a random household object, or your hand–obviously, the first choice is the most recommended) and position your camera to show

12. To have your second device be the main screen showing on your Zoom meeting for yourself, such as the image above, you must pin the screen of your secondary device. This will allow you to see what the students are seeing, and you may properly adjust your smartphone’s positioning and orientation accordingly.

First, ensure that your Zoom meeting interface on your computer or other primary device is showing Speaker View. Your screen should show your participants as depicted below, with the grid icon presented on the top right.

If you are operating on Grid View, select the button at the top right titled “Speaker View” to switch.

In Speaker View on your primary device, you may now select the three dots on the top right of your smartphone’s display. Select “Pin Video,” and you should notice that your smartphone’s camera display is now the main visual on your screen. You may advise your students to do the same.

13. As another note, there is no zoom-in feature on the Zoom software; therefore, the Zoom image being broadcasted by your cellphone will not operate as your camera application. To zoom-in on your document or give your students a closer look at the information being shown, you must manually adjust the positioning of your device holder to shorten the distance between your document and your smartphone.

14. Once you are done using your smartphone document camera, to end this broadcast, select “Leave” on your cellphone at the top right corner.

You will still remain active on your primary device to continue teaching as normal, or end the meeting for all of your participants at your liking.


How to Improve WiFi Connection for Remote Learning Using a WiFi Booster

This post describes how to set up a WiFi extender, which can help improve WiFi connection to avoid freezing and glitching for video/audio calls! Consider setting up an extender if you are having connectivity issues with conferencing platforms such as zoom or Google Meet.
This material is compiled from Tech and Learning’s website on WiFi extenders.

A WiFi extender is a device that extends the range of your WiFi from your router, to reach further areas of your property.

Step 1

To begin, you need to see what your download and upload speed currently is. Open a browser and go to a website such as this one to run a speed test. Once you know your baseline speed, you can find an extender that improves your number.

From there, buy an extender. Ideally, one that plugs directly in to a power socket.

Step 2

For placement, you will want to place your extender halfway between your router and the dead zone. The sweet spot will be where the extender is close enough to the router to still pick up a signal, and close enough to the dead zone to transfer WiFi.

Make sure the extender is placed in an open area, and not behind a fridge or other object which could obstruct the signal.

If you do not have an outlet in the desired area, consider running a power socket extension cord from an accessible outlet to the area.

If the dead zone is upstairs, place the extender directly above the router, on the dead zone floor.

In terms of angles, some extenders come with antennas to direct the signal. This can help to direct the signal directly to the dead zone. Also, you can even create your own booster or WiFi reflector with foil or half a can; this video describes how to create a diy booster.

Step 3

Finally, test and adjust your extender. “Name” the extender in your system so that is it easy to locate (this can usually be done from within the app the extender is connected to, or through the setup website as instructed through the installation booklet) then run the same speed test from step 1. If the speed is not much improved in your dead zone area, try moving the extender, or adding an antenna. Repeat the process until the speed is improved.

Alternate Option

If the extender does not work and you still have dead or slow WiFi zones, consider installing a mesh WiFi network.

A mesh uses multiple points to create a web-like signal that interconnects your entire home. This is a more advanced system and will cost you more, but the end result is usually very impressive with strong signal in every room, even for larger homes. 

Check out the video below to learn about different types of extenders:

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Information Services at or (310) 506-7425.

Zoom Shortcuts for Teachers

This post offers a list of keyboard shortcuts for zoom that can be useful for instructors. The material has been summarized from Tech Learning’s website.

Note that these specific shortcuts can only be used in the zoom app, and not in a browser window.

Mute Audio

  • PC: Alt + A (to mute yourself)
  • PC: Alt + M (to mute your students)
  • Mac: Cmd + A/M
  • iPad: Cmd + Shift + A/M

To mute yourself in zoom without navigating to the mute/unmute button in your toolbar, try using the combination of keys listed above relevant to your device type. Always remember to check your profile on zoom to ensure that you have muted and unmuted successfully!

Screenshot Your Page in Zoom

  • PC: Alt + Shift + T 
  • Mac: Cmd + T
  • iPad: Volume up + Power buttons

If there is an instance where you would like to capture what is presented on your screen, try using the shortcuts above. The picture will save in your files for later. This can be helpful during someone’s zoom presentation, where the presentation may not be saved and you would like to take notes afterwards and review the material. Make sure, though, that the presenter is informed that you are saving their presentation, and that they are ok with you doing so.

Begin Recording

  • PC: Alt + V
  • Mac: Cmd + Shift + M
  • iPad: Cmd + Shift + M

These shortcuts begin a recording of your class. For more information on recording in zoom, check out our Recording in Zoom PDF, and how to Access your Recordings.

Screen Share

  • PC: Alt + S
  • Mac: Cmd + Ctrl + S

Note: There’s no Zoom shortcut for the iPad but you can share your screen by accessing the control center, holding down the record button (solid white circle inside another circle) and selecting Zoom from the options.

Raise/Lower Hand

  • PC: Alt + Y
  • Mac: Option + Y

A really great feature of Zoom, which makes it feel more like a real-world meeting, is the ability to raise a hand. This allows you to keep the group muted but still give participants the feeling that they can speak up and interject when they need to, perhaps with a question.

Other Shortcuts

For a full list of zoom shortcuts, go to Settings in the upper right hand corner of your main zoom screen. Then, on the left, click keyboard shortcuts, which will show a full list.

Universal Design Learning

This post is a student response to Thomas Tobin’s webcast on Universal Design of Learning as well as the UDL Guidelines page from UDL’s website. For more information, please visit those sites.

In his webcast on the basics of UDL, Thomas J. Tobin of the University of Wisconsin-Madison made it clear that we need to re-frame how teaching institutions approach UDL and accessibility. When presented with students who desire accommodations for their learning, instructors, though willing to comply, can often feel frustrated and stressed at the prospect of altering curriculum to fulfill the request.

But, UDL is not only a disability or access services format. Rather, UDL is a proactive way to structure material to help make the interactions the happen at your institution more easily accessible for people on their mobile devices.

What is UDL?

UDL is defined as a framework to improve and optimize teaching and learning for all people based on scientific insights into how humans learn. There are three components:

  1. We need multiple ways to keep learners engaged. This is the “why” of learning. For example, instructors could give a time estimate for an assignment so that students know how to self-regulate their approach to the assignment, and experience autonomy.
  2. We need multiple ways of representing information. This is the “what” of learning. For example, the students can be presented with both audio and visual versions of the content, and choose which style works best for them to retain the information. Providing different options for the information display allows deeper comprehension for the student, as they may understand one form of communication better than another.
  3. We need multiple ways to give people choices for their actions. This is the “how” of learning. For example, as long as learning objectives remain the same, you can offer multiple ways for the student to complete an assignment, perhaps through an essay or visual presentation option. Or, give multiple options for first drafting that point toward the same end result assignment.  

Realistic Implementation

UDL helps to understand what has to happen at the level of course design that makes accommodation less necessary.

UDL is “plus one” learning. If there is a way you interact with students, just make one more way to interact with materials, each other, and the wider world.

Remember that UDL reduces barriers by offering students choices and control. If you offer more ways for students to access material, they are more likely to persist in classes, more likely to be retained in later years, and more likely to be satisfied with their learning experience.

UDL is work, but will alleviate more work and stress that could potentially arise later in the course, as it is a proactive, not reactive format.

Many instructors are familiar with DI, or “differentiated instruction”. DI is customizing the instructor’s response to the student in any way they can. DI occurs in the moment, responding to a specific student situation. It is also reactive, allowing instructors to hear and respond. UDL is the proactive counterpart to DI, and happens on “day 0” to set up for success.

5 strategies for UDL:

  1. Start with text. Use your written content as a script for audio/podcast or video. You can post the text version and video/audio as the alternative (multiple ways to represent information).
  2. Make alternatives. You can offer different formats for print/PDF content, or post take still photos with captions from a video. This reduces cognitive barriers for students. Note: UDL does not aim to water down content, but instead makes it easier for the student to get in and do it.
  3. Let them do it their way. As long as objectives for assignment are the same, could offer video or paper presentations, let the student choose. 
  4. Go step by step. 10:2 ratio. Give info for 10 mins, then ask students to respond for 2 mins. The response does not even need to be related to the info, it is used as a pause to retain info given in the 10 minutes.
  5. Set content free. Publish content on platforms that are mobile accessible. Also, make sure they are not tied to a specific software that the student has to download or buy. 


What about the science surrounding different learning styles?
Learning styles, in the conventional sense, (audio verses visual presentation, etc.) don’t exist. At least, not as six characteristics. Our learning preferences change from moment to moment based on the content and circumstances. For example: a man who is taking a class but also has to drop his daughter off at school before work may prefer an audio version of the class content to listen to during his commute, and in that instance, an audio option is much more helpful to him than a PDF.

Retention also varies and is not based on hard principles but based on accessibility; if the student can get to the information, look through it multiple times, and customize how they move through it, they can retain it.

Incorporating CALI Lessons in Your Classroom

CALI (The Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction) is a resource provided by Pepperdine School of Law for students that includes over 1,000+ interactive online tutorials written by law professors, on over 40+ subject areas. This article is a reminder of the incredibly useful resources available in CALI, as well as the suggested use of the program in your classroom. The information provided below is taken from a post by CALI’s executive director, John Mayer.

For notes on CALI for students, such as what the software is and how to find your registration code, please click here.

1. CALI Lessons are interactive, engaging and provide students with variety in learning experiences.
CALI Lessons are written by Law faculty and intend to teach and quiz the students through hypothetical situations. The interactive readings and tests quiz them on genuine understanding to ensure that the students selected correct answers for the right reasons. Modeled on Socratic Dialogue, the questions asked are meant to steer a student’s thinking in a nuanced direction.

2. CALI Lessons are quick and can be used as topic-introductory assignments or fillers within a lecture.
Each lesson is designed to take approximately between 20 and 40 minutes to complete, which is perfect for bite-sized material that allows natural breaks. This allows students to utilize CALI Lessons before class assignments, in preparations for exams, or even when the professor is unavailable to attend class. While students are still exposed to rigorous concepts and nomenclature, they are not meant to overwhelm the student and actually provide immediate feedback to aid in studies.

3. With CALI LessonLink, professors may track student progress and results.
Law faculty has the ability to create unique links to specific CALI Lessons they wish their students to take. Students receive feedback on every question, as well as a final score that informs them on their skill level in a certain legal topic; with LessonLink, faculty has access to all of these personal statistics to access their students knowledge on any given subject.


Metacognition for Students

This presentation will explore Metacognition, or the awareness and understanding of one’s own thought process. In understanding the different approaches to learning, you will be able to enhance your own learning as a student.

This presentation is compiled from the information presented in Sandra McGuire’s best-selling Metacognition book, “Teach Yourself to Learn: Strategies You Can Use to Ace Any Course at Any Level”. You can buy the book here.

In this presentation, we will cover:
Linking Concepts
Bloom’s Taxonomy
The Study Cycle

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Pedagogy-2-640x360.png

Metacognition, literally “cognition about cognition”, or “thinking about thinking” is the process of understanding how you learn and includes knowledge about when and how to use particular strategies for learning or problem-solving. This understanding can manifest in being aware of oneself, and monitoring or judging one’s level of learning.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Pedagogy-3-640x358.png

The purpose of this presentation is to explain some strategies and self-evaluation techniques to equip you, as a student, realize your personal learning patterns and objectives.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Pedagogy-4-640x357.png

Remember: for highest efficiency, choose one or two techniques that you can feasibly implement into a studying routine. There is a lot covered in this presentation; see if there are one or two ways you can implement metacognition in your own academic life.

 Short-term benefits include:

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Pedagogy-6-640x354.png

Increased metacognition awareness has been proven to massively improve test scores.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Pedagogy-7-640x352.png

This is not a one-off phenomenon; building strong learning habits is a continuous process that will continue to benefit you long-term.

The first metacognition strategy is linking concepts:

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Pedagogy-9-640x348.png

To illustrate this concept, follow this exercise, and have a pen or pencil and paper ready. There will be a timer set for 45 seconds. On the next slide, count all the vowels you see until time runs out.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Pedagogy-10-640x355.png

Now, try to write down as many words as you can remember from the previous slide. If you’d like to calculate your score in percentage divide the number you remember by 15, and multiply by 100. The average is 3 phrases remembered, or 20%; did you beat the average?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Pedagogy-11-640x353.png

Looking at the list again, try to find the underlying pattern that orders the group.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Pedagogy-12-640x352.png

Now, repeat the exercise again- you will be given 45 seconds.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Pedagogy-13-640x348.png

 Did your average improve?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Pedagogy-14-640x354.png

This exercise illustrated the strategy “linking concepts”, in particular focusing on the overall goal. When the goal is clearly set (memorize the list) to match the expected outcome (write as many words as you can recall), the outcome is much improved.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Pedagogy-15-640x353.png

Secondly, and implementing a holistic, pattern-driven strategy helped to make the learning process familiar. By linking the words to numerical order, it was easier to recall the words in the exercise. In academia, the “linking concepts” approach remains relevant; connecting content to the overall goal, and making content relatable to things familiar to the student helps to format the learning experience to the student. 

For example, you may try to link the content or your readings to something you have encountered in everyday life, thus making the learning process tailored to your own experiences.

The second strategy is Bloom’s Taxonomy:

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Pedagogy-17-640x357.png

Bloom’s taxonomy is a quantitative, measurable hierarchy. Each level of learning builds on the next, and to understand which level you are at versus which level you need to be at for the goals of the class is vital.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Pedagogy-18-640x356.png

The first stage is remembering, essentially rote memorization. The second is understanding the terms, characterized by the ability to paraphrase the content.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Pedagogy-19-640x351.png

The third is applying, where you can take the information you’ve understood and use it in new contexts that you have not seen before. Fourth is analyzing, where you can break the concept down into parts, and examine the constitution or structure of the concept.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Pedagogy-20-640x355.png

Fifth is evaluating, where you can take the concept you’ve learned and compare, contrast, and judge influences and competing ideals based on your knowledge of the concept. Lastly, sixth creating: in this stage, you are able to solve problems originally, building off of the knowledge of the concept.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Pedagogy-21-640x354.png

Differing from the buy-in to metacognition, which many view as simply raising grades, Bloom’s taxonomy challenges you to truly understand the material, identify how you, personally, interact with material, assess what you know, and shift study habits to engage in deeper learning.

After evaluating where you are on the taxonomy, how do you move higher, out of levels of memorization and into levels of deep comprehension? Use the study cycle!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Pedagogy-23-640x355.png

The cycle consists of 5 steps: Preview, attend class, review, intense study sessions, and assessment.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Pedagogy-24-640x347.png

The preview stage happens before class, where you skim over notes or completed homework to ascertain the learning objectives for class that day, and any questions you may have.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Pedagogy-25-640x350.png

The second stage is attendance; go to class, no matter what, and taking meaningful notes.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Pedagogy-26-640x348.png

Directly after class, you should review main concepts learned that day and review by reading over notes and answering questions.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Pedagogy-27-640x350.png

The fourth step is engaging in short study increments where you implement metacognition techniques.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Pedagogy-28-640x346.png

Periodically, you should pause and make sure that you fully understand the material you have studied. You may try assessing their stage in Bloom’s taxonomy; are you simply in the memorizing stage, or higher in the evaluating stage?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Pedagogy-29-640x354.png

In college, the level of material retention necessary to succeed in a class is higher than in high school. You should be aware of the Bloom’s stage they need to be at to succeed; typically, you should be at the analysis or synthesis stage.

Next is a model of the study cycle when applied to reading.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Pedagogy-31-640x356.png

As the student, you should be able to identify the questions the instructor needs to you answer before reading the text; skim the reading broadly first to understand the topics that will be covered in the reading.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Pedagogy-32-640x352.png

When reading the actual text itself, you should not go straight from beginning to end, instead you should read in chunks to fully digest the information in a feasible manner.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Pedagogy-33-640x352.png

It is vital that you attend class and take physical, hand-written notes, engaging completely with the material while in class.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Pedagogy-34-640x350.png

Homework should be done first without notes or a guide, and used as an assessment to see how well you understand the material covered in readings or class.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Pedagogy-36-640x355.png

In summary, using metacognitive strategies is deeply beneficial in you understand how you individually learn best, and how to format your study and class practices to master material. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Pedagogy-37-640x354.png

Thank you for your interest and attention!

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Information Services at or (310) 506-7425.

How the Brain Works

Here, we examine author and molecular biologist Dr. John Medina’s “Brain Rules,” a popular book on implementing brain science to classroom and professional dynamics. Medina lists 12 fundamental “brain rules” (what scientists know for sure about how our brains work), and many presented points are incredibly pertinent to molding the ideal learning environment.

The way our collective brains as a species have evolved is a truly fascinating and ongoing event. Possessing a deeper understanding of the way our minds function on both a mass and individual level allows us to hone our cognitive strengths, as well as revolve our routines to our benefit.

Separating the analysis between students and faculty, below are a few key takeaways for both sides of the classroom that are directly related to fostering a learning space that may maximize educational efficiency and retention.

Key Takeaways for Students

Rule #1: Exercise Boosts Brain Power
Exercise improves cognition for two reasons:
1. Exercise increases oxygen flow into the brain, which reduces brain-bound free radicals. One of the most interesting findings of the past few decades is that an increase in oxygen is always accompanied by an uptick in mental sharpness.2. Exercise acts directly on the molecular machinery of the brain itself. It increases neurons’ creation, survival, and resistance to damage and stress.

Rule #7: Sleep well, think well.
Sleep must be important because we spend 1/3 of our lives doing it! Loss of sleep hurts attention, executive function, working memory, mood, quantitative skills, logical reasoning, and even motor dexterity. Taking a nap might make you more productive. In one study, a 26-minute nap improved NASA pilots’ performance by 34 percent!

Rule #3: Every brain is wired differently.
What YOU do and learn in life physically changes what your brain looks like – it literally rewires it. We used to think there were just 7 categories of intelligence. But categories of intelligence may number more than 7 billion—roughly the population of the world. Learn which learning style is best for you, personally, and customize your studying style to learn effectively.

Rule #5: Repeat to remember.
Improve your memory by elaborately encoding it during its initial moments. Many of us have trouble remembering names. If at a party you need help remembering Mary, it helps to repeat internally more information about her. “Mary is wearing a blue dress and my favorite color is blue.” It may seem counterintuitive at first but study after study shows it improves your memory.

Key Takeaways for Faculty

Rule #4: We Don’t Pay Attention to Boring Things.
For instructors, it’s important to note that boredom is less of a matter of determination, but more of a matter of evolution. The topics and delivery methods that students pay attention to are profoundly influenced by predictive memory. Try to open main ideas and lectures with emotional and relevant anecdotes, or something attention grabbing to capture the students’ interests in seconds. Typically, an individual can maintain attention for only 10 minutes, and then requires a break and second boost of attention to restart the clock.

Rules #5 and #6: Repeat to Remember, Remember to Repeat.
Memories are very volatile. The human brain can only retain around seven pieces of information for less than 30 seconds; this is crucial for powerpoint presentations in terms of not overwhelming your audience with multiple facts on one slide. If an instructor would like to extend information retention to a few minutes or even an hour or two, the information must be consistently re-exposed to students in specifically times intervals through either examples, practice or checkpoint summaries.

Rule #10: Vision Trumps all other Senses.
The book describes the interconnection between sense and memories as a “learning link,” stating that multi-sensory environments will always lead to a better learning outcome. The human brain is incredible at remembering pictures, so to hear information presented alongside a visual stimulant will increase a student’s memory retention by 55 percent. It is also important to note that, during presentations, interpreting pictures is more efficient than interpreting text in terms of brain functionality.

Rule #8: Stressed Brains Do Not Learn the Same Way.
It is important to pay attention to the classroom dynamics that are created amongst peers and between the faculty and students. If an individual does not feel safe–whether that be physically or emotionally–he or she may not perform as well. A student may become isolated if they feel misunderstood by a teacher or disconnected with their teaching methods.

Rule #3: Every Brain is Wired Differently.
Lastly, it is essential to understand that every student enters the classroom with their own personally built set of developmental strengths and stress, short and long term memories, and overall varying levels of cognitive function. Every brain is wired differently, so it may behoove an instructor to attempt to integrate different pedagogical techniques to see what is best for the majority, or place separate, special attention to individuals who may require or seek other methods of learning and engagement.

Thank you for your interest and attention!

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Information Services at or (310) 506-7425.

Why Metacognition? Optimal Learning

This presentation gives a brief overview of the benefits of teaching in a metacognitive style, to create the most effective learning environment for students. To view the complete guide to metacognition, see LawTech’s Metacognition presentation.

In this presentation, we cover:

What faculty can do
What students can do
Brief overview of metacognition strategies

Optimal learning, or the most effective and efficient way a student retains and masters content, is the product of connecting the student’s motivation, emotion, and learning style. Ultimately, teaching in a way that encourages optimal learning is the goal of most every teacher. But how is this accomplished? This presentation will overview the benefits of learning to teach with metacognitive strategies, which allow the teacher and student to work together to facilitate learning.

Optimal learning occurs when the social and emotional environment of a learning space are considered along with the material presented in the classroom. This includes creating safe and stable learning environments, providing equitable and rigorous material, and aiming to meet the needs of diverse learners.

In order to facilitate this style of optimal learning, faculty and students must share responsibility for the learning environment. The faculty should set clear expectations and goals that the students can aim for. This is where metacognition is important!

For example, teachers may format their class schedule to accommodate different learning styles and increase engagement by incorporating interactive learning into lecture-based classes. For example, students can talk about a question together, or teach one another the material that was covered in a previous class.

Students can learn metacognition techniques themselves, and master learning models such as Bloom’s taxonomy and the study cycle.

Also, it is important to impress upon students that their performance in class does rely, in part, on their individual contribution to their own learning.

Thus, students need to be able to find balance.

Some effective metacognition strategies to encourage students to try include: knowing the material well enough to teach someone else and asking deeper questions to engage with material on an analysis level.

Teach the study cycle, which emphasizes mastery over memorization.

Essentially, it is highly beneficial for teachers to teach metacognitive strategies to students and establish clear learning goals the students can aspire to reach.

Thank you for your interest and attention!

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Information Services at or (310) 506-7425.

Gamifying Your Classroom

The goal of this presentation is to discuss gamifying education for faculty use in hopes of utilizing efficient pedagogy to make learning more engaging for their students.

In this presentation, we cover:

In this blog post, we will take a deep dive into the educational techniques of gamification, touching on points such as the general overview of gamification and how to implement gamified elements in the classroom. According to EducationDrive, a recent report showed nearly half of GenZ, the incoming generation of higher education, prefer to learn through gameful approaches.

According to game designer, author, and TedTalk speaker Jane McGonigal, gaming is the “most important medium of the twenty-first century.”

Overall, there are four main defining characteristics of a game:

The goal is a specific outcome that players will work to achieve. The goal of the game not only orients the player’s participation throughout the whole duration of playing, but it also provides the player with a sense of purpose.

Rules are sets of limitations, mainly used to foster creative and strategic thinking.

A feedback system is a motivating factor that allows the player to know how close they are to achieving the goal, as well as acts as a constant reminder that the goal is in fact achievable.

The final trait is voluntary participation, meaning that the player willingly accepts the goals, rules and feedback.

Gaming has always come with a stigma, but in proper moderation, gaming is structured to provide happiness and a positive reward system. The known secrets to making our own happiness, according to McGonigal, are satisfying work, hope of success, social connection and a sense of meaning.

In addition to a higher level of engagement and retention, gamification also provides an encouraging learning environment in which students may take risks and think creatively without simply searching for the “correct answer” or aiming for a higher grade. Placing educational materials in the context of a “game” may mitigate any discouragement of failure or poor habits in shortcutting the learning process.

Gamification may be useful in higher education in mix with a myriad of pedagogic approaches. Game elements show to benefit students in proactive engagement during teaching sessions, with a higher level of motivation and enjoyment. This may assist in creating a more effective teaching method while contributing to the students’ learning outcomes and overall educational experiences.

When considering gaming as a collaborative platform, we can look at the beneficial teaching gamified strategies relay on to teams of students. First, there is a shared concentration that allows complete focus on the game and it’s winning objectives. There is a mutual regard between team members that they all should put their best efforts out of respect. This collective commitment then incorporates honor into the action, which is rewarded through either a win or loss. Even in a loss, there is still a sense of fun and hope for a future success.

Narrative is the use of stories to engage students in learning, for example, a case study or real-world situation.

Challenge refers to the use of a task that is thought-provoking enough to be difficult, but with a solution that is obtainable enough to be fun.

Progression refers to the flow of tasks or activities that keep consistent engagement and motivation through a learning session.

Feedback is frequent and targeted responses to students’ progressing work that encourages learning.    

Thank you for your interest and attention!

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Information Services at or (310) 506-7425.