Guidelines for Tutors in Preparing Slides to Show in the Whiteboard

Background on the Whiteboard Tool
The Whiteboard can be a useful teaching aid. It allows for interactivity during a session, as well as being able to show previously prepared material. This guide is designed to explain, in a clear, concise way, the easiest methods for producing course material to display during a lesson on the Whiteboard.

The first step is to decide the exact nature of the material. If it is purely textual, and there is no other information displayed on the page such as a logo, or a surrounding border, or different colours of text (in other words any markings on the page which do not classify as text typed in from a keyboard) then the task of displaying the page is relatively easy. On the other hand, if the material to be displayed is not pure text, then the pages must be prepared in a different manner.

These differences can be explained by the way in which the application (the Whiteboard) reads the files which are loaded in to it. All text characters have a numeric value which is common to all computers. By way of example, the lowercase letter 'm' has the decimal value 109.  When stored as an electronic text file, the numeric values of the characters are  saved sequentially so that any application (such as Whiteboard) can interpret the file. This explains why the text that you see on the whiteboard may not  have exactly the same 'appearance' as it would in a programme such as Microsoft Word, however the words will be exactly the same.

Pages which contain any other kinds of markings have to be saved in a different way, known as a Postscript file. This is basically a file which contains the sort of information which a printer could interpret. It breaks a visual image down into a series of very fine dots and once again stores them sequentially in an electronic file. This naturally produces a great deal more information for the application to interpret and therefore takes up more space both on the disk where the file is to be stored as well as over the network where the information flows to the other participants in the tutorial.

-->It is our reccommendation that where possible, postscript files should be avoided and slides should be produced in text-only format.

1.Creating Text Files: -
a) When producing a text only document, in order to see how the pages of the material will appear, the page and text attributes of the application in which the text is being written should be set to the following values:-

Page Size - US Letter (small) -> 27.94cm by 21.59cm
Page Orientation - Landscape
Text Size - 16 point
Text Style - Bold
Font - Arial

b) For creating these files, we would suggest that the most commonly available tools are those of Microsoft Windows 95, such as Microsoft Word and Microsoft Powerpoint. On saving the work, select the 'save as..' option under the file menu. In the 'save file as type' box in the lower part of the window, select 'text only'. The page attributes for Microsoft Word can be set under the 'File Menu ->Page Setup' option.

2. Creating Postscript Files
Those Microsoft applications can also create something close to a postscript file. It does however have to be altered slightly in addition in order for it to be imported in to Whiteboard. Before preparing the file the page attributes must be set in advance as described above. The text and the graphics should then be entered and upon completion the file can be saved in the default format of the application in which it is made. Any text should also be prepared with the same size and style attributes as described above.To create a Postscript file :-

Select the 'File Menu -> Print'
Select the 'Print to File' box and 'current page' (the default will be 'all pages')
Click on 'Print'
This will produce a directory menu, select the directory and name which you wish to give the file.
Click on 'Save'

This has created a .prn file, which is the Microsoft equivalent to a postscript file.
WARNING:  These files, although they import well into your own Whiteboard Screen, are not necessarily interpreted effectively by the Whiteboard tools which the other participants are running.

The solution to this at present is to run the .prn file through an application called 'fixwfwps'. This application should soon be available for  PC's running Windows '95, however for the time being we suggest that once the slides have been prepared they should be saved on a disk and handed to a member of the support staff at least one day prior to the tutorial.

3. Scanning Text or Images
Another way of preparing material for a lesson is to take a previously prepared document such as a newspaper article and to scan it into a file. To do this personally, you would require a scanner to be attached to the computer as well as an application which would read the results of the scan and produce an electronic image of the material. There are many such applications available, some of the more recent releases of these also include a function called 'Optical Character Recognition' (OCR), this will interpret any written text and attempt to store the information as a text file. There is also software available which will recognise text in most European languages. If you do not have this available to you, please send the material at least one day in advance of the session to a member of the support staff and they will attempt to convert it to the correct format.

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