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Updates in IUSM Undergraduate Medical Education

Tips for Maximizing the Impact of PowerPoint Presentations, Part II

Filed under: Technology Matters — Sarah Lang on August 29, 2014 @ 4:08 pm

Last week, I shared two tips for maximizing the impact of your PowerPoint presentations while keeping “Death by PowerPoint” at bay. Keeping with the “less is more” theme presented in Tip #2, this tip shifts more towards aesthetics.


Tip #3: Engage, Don’t Distract

The last way to maximize the impact of your PowerPoint is to limit use of elements that distract more than engage the audience’s attention. Realistically, paying attention to a speaker is difficult enough without the speaker also requiring you to simultaneously ignore animated effects, irritating or indistinguishable color combinations, and other extraneous elements during their talk. However eye-catching these effects seem to you, they ultimately do more harm than good. Remember: your goal is to convey a series of messages, not to make it as difficult as possible for those messages to get through to the audience. Here are some specific ways to keep the distraction to a minimum, so that your audience stays with your message.


Just Say “No!” to Animated Effects.

When designing your slides, avoid using unnecessary animated slide and text effects. Sometimes annoying and almost always distracting, these effects can cause your audience to shift their attention away from the content of your presentation and toward the design of your PowerPoint. If you must animate your slide (i.e. it would help the audience if the labels appear as you discuss parts of a diagram), then limit yourself to the “Appear” animation to keep it as simple as possible.


Plain is Better.

When designing the layout, keep it plain (white background, dark text) and avoid unsettling color combinations, especially this one:


A white background with dark text will ensure your presentation is not only easy on the eyes, but also easy and more economical to print (whether in PowerPoint or PDF format). Reserve colors, instead, for graphs, charts, and diagrams.


Go Monochrome!

When selecting colors for graphs and charts, consider going monochrome—using multiple shades of a single color rather than different colors. Monochromatic distinctions typically show up better when printed in grayscale and, whether printed or presented, are typically easier to distinguish by individuals with color vision deficits. In addition, using the default settings in PowerPoint, monochromatic shades will automatically be ordered from light to dark or dark to light in the legend, and thus the chart or graph itself. For example, take a look at these two pie charts, both printed in gray scale. The first pie chart uses PowerPoint default colors and the second uses monochromatic shades.


 Can you tell which pie piece is the 2nd quarter and which is the 4th quarter?

This is what they look like in color:



Be Kind to the Colorblind (and everyone else)!

When you do want multiple colors for charts, diagrams, or graphs, stick with bright high-contrast colors and, whenever possible, test to ensure they are distinguishable when projected on a screen. We have all, at one time or another, been confused or disappointed by colors so muted or darkened by a projector that their purpose is lost. As problematic as this is for people with normal color vision, it is even worse for those with color vision deficits, who are regularly asked by well-meaning presenters to distinguish among colors that otherwise look identical. Below are the common color combinations to avoid in your presentations. Not only can these be indistinguishable by those with color vision deficits, many are indistinguishable when projected.



Remember: color for the sake of color is almost never a good idea. Colors should have a purpose and should help deliver your message, not confuse it.

For some helpful resources about improving your PowerPoint presentations, follow these additional links:

You can find additional resources in Part One and, for quick and user-friendly training on various PowerPoint features, you can find free tutorials through, as well as through IU’s agreement with


Box and IUanyWare Webinars by IT Training

Filed under: Technology Matters — Lorie Shuck on August 26, 2014 @ 9:14 am

Below are two online opportunities from IT Training. They are evening events and are free to attend.


Box: Access Files, Share and Collaborate from Anywhere

Tuesday, August 26 from 5:30-6:30pm EDT.

In this workshop, participants will learn about their new cloud storage option at Indiana University: Box. Box is a cloud storage service that focuses on collaboration between users. IU faculty, staff, and students are all eligible for an account with 50 GB of storage. In this workshop, we will learn how users can create and access their account, store and share files, as well as how to use Box as an effective collaboration tool.

The webinar is free and open to all. Details at Register there or just show up at to attend.


IUanyWare: A Brief Introduction (more…)

Tips for Maximizing the Impact of PowerPoint Presentations – Part I

Filed under: Technology Matters — Sarah Lang on August 22, 2014 @ 3:12 pm

We’ve all experienced it and, let’s admit it, we’ve all done it: we have ALL created ineffective PowerPoint presentations at one time or another. And despite our best efforts to forge ahead, we have all been victims (and, some of us, perpetrators!) of “Death by PowerPoint”.   Over the next two weeks, I will share three tips for maximizing the impact of your PowerPoint presentations while keeping “Death by PowerPoint” at bay. Here are the first two:


Tip #1: Words before Slides

One of the simplest ways to maximize the impact of your PowerPoint presentations is to write down what you want to say before you create or select your slides. Though this sounds like a “no-brainer”, most people, particularly those pressed for time, typically do not do it. All too often, presenters will create their slides while (or worse, before) they decide what to say. We have all seen the evidence of this live—whether it’s the presenter who reads their slides verbatim; the presenter who repeatedly tells the audience to “ignore the details” on slides; or the presenter who attempts the land speed record for slide advancement to finish their presentation on time—these are all evidence that the slides, rather than the presenter, designed the presentation.

So, what method for capturing your plan is best? That really depends on the type of presentation and how you like to organize your thoughts. For example, you could write an outline, or draw a flow chart, or talk through what you plan to say, jotting down notes as you speak. You could also (more…)

July Learning Technology Newsbits

Filed under: Technology Matters — Lorie Shuck on July 2, 2014 @ 3:55 pm

This blog post covers a few new things in the world of learning technology for the IU School of Medicine. Contact me with any questions you have about these items. I can be reached at or (317) 278-1506.



First of all, I want to take a moment to introduce you all to Rachel Mahan, who is new to IUSM. Rachel will be working as the Assessment Technology Coordinator for UME. In this role, she will manage aspects of ExamSoft exams and NBME exams. Please feel free to contact Rachel with your exam questions. Here is her contact info:

Rachel Mahan
Assessment Technology Coordinator for UME
(317) 274-8303



Another item that might be of interest to some is a pilot for a video management tool that IU is conducting this fall. (more…)

Grade Scale Proposal starting Academic Year 2015-2016

Filed under: Assessment Matters,Curriculum Matters — Mark Seifert on June 25, 2014 @ 4:49 pm

An email was distributed earlier this month from the CCSC requesting input and comment from faculty and medical students concerning a proposed change to the IUSM grading system. This proposal arose from an ad hoc Grade Scale Subcommittee (GSS) that identified and reviewed relevant literature on the effects of various grading systems in both preclinical and clinical years of the curriculum. The window of opportunity for receipt of your comments is quickly closing (Friday, June 27th). I hope you have taken or will take the opportunity to register your thoughts on this important matter. We need to hear from you!

The instructions below provide you a step-by-step guide for accessing resources and submitting comments in Oncourse. Once in the Feedback and Resources page you will find the proposal, articles the GSS reviewed, and their report. A link is provided for submitting your comments. Please take the time to enter your views.

To provide your feedback on the proposal, follow the steps below.


Call for Nominations for Course Leadership Roles

Filed under: Curriculum Matters — Sara Grethlein on June 18, 2014 @ 4:39 pm

The following is the text from an email by Sara Jo Grethlein, MD, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Medical Education

Dear Colleagues

As you are doubtless aware, the Indiana University School of Medicine is launching our curriculum reform with academic year 2015-16. We are seeking dynamic educators to lead our newly designed courses and help to propel IUSM to the forefront of educational innovation. We seek nominations (including self nominations) from faculty at all 9 campuses.

For the last four years, hundreds of faculty working with countless other contributors over thousands of  hours have toiled to create our new curriculum. This work has led to revision of our Institutional Learning Objectives, then definition of our Course Level Objectives for our 16 new courses and finally to the sketching of course schedules and learning objectives for each session. The Course Development Teams have finalized their creative efforts.

We are now striving to identify two sets of leaders to move our courses from theory to reality. The attached documents define the roles and expectations of Statewide Course Director and Course Site Leader, as well as, the process that will be used to select and confirm individuals to fill these roles.

Applications with supporting materials need to be submitted on our special CANVAS site. The deadline for application is 9 am on July 7, 2014

To access the site, click this URL:

Click the ‘Enroll in Course’ button and then click the ‘Go to the Course’ button. Once in the site, read the content on the home page and follow the steps for submitting your application.

If you have questions about the process, expectations or new curriculum please feel free to contact me, Dr. Mark Seifert (about Phase 1 courses) or Dr. Butch Humbert (about Phase 2 courses).


Sara Jo

Sara Jo Grethlein, MD
Associate Dean for Undergraduate Medical Education
Professor of Clinical Medicine
Indiana University School of Medicine
Office of Undergraduate Medical Education
Suite 417, 1110 West Michigan Street
Indianapolis, In 46202


Documents referenced in article

Courses and Goals

IUSM Course Leadership Selection

Curriculum Reform: Building the Home for Learning (presentation slides)


Oncourse to Canvas Transition

Filed under: Technology Matters — Lorie Shuck on May 29, 2014 @ 12:12 pm


Indiana University has selected Canvas by Instructure as the successor to Oncourse. What this means for the IU School of Medicine is described in this article. Here you will learn the implementation plan and find resources to help you get started using Canvas.

Implementation Plan

All four years of medical school will continue to use Oncourse for the 2014-2015 academic year. Canvas will be used for the 2015-2016 Clerkships. In the Fall of 2015, first year courses will use Canvas while second year courses will remain in Oncourse. By the Fall of 2016, all medical education courses will be in Canvas. (more…)

Competency Transition

Filed under: Curricular Currents — Butch Humbert on May 20, 2014 @ 4:22 pm

In 1999, the Indiana University School of Medicine was one of the first medical schools to launch a competency-based curriculum based on 9 domains of competency: Communication and Interpersonal Skills; Basic Clinical Skills; Using Science to Guide Diagnosis, Management, Therapeutics, and Prevention; Life Long Learning; Self Awareness, Self Care and Personal Growth; Social and Community Context of Healthcare; Moral Reasoning and Ethical Judgment; Problem Solving; and Professionalism and Role Recognition.  This spurred many valuable contributions to our curriculum in the 15 years since the incorporating these 9 competency domains.

Since that time, medical education at large has (more…)

New System for Student Evaluations

Filed under: Evaluation Matters — Tony Ribera on May 13, 2014 @ 4:40 pm

The following is a copy of an email that was distributed on April 28.


Date:   April 28, 2014

To:       All Curriculum Council Committees

From:   Tony Ribera, PhD, Director of Program Evaluation for UME

Sara Jo Grethlein, MD, Associate Dean for UME

Re:       New System for Student Evaluations


New Grade Policy to Take Effect Academic Year 2014-2015

Filed under: Policy Points — Mark Seifert on May 7, 2014 @ 12:42 pm

We want to let faculty know about some recent changes to our School’s grade policy in light of new programs planned for our incoming class of medical students this fall and in anticipation of implementation of the first phase of the new curriculum in fall 2015. It is our hope and expectation that these changes will simplify the grading process while still providing students and faculty with the tools to identify competence and areas for improvement.

  • First, the Curriculum Council Steering Committee (CCSC) approved (December 2012) the realignment and adaptation of our previous nine competencies into the six ACGME (Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education) competencies (more…)

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