Key Issues and Concepts
Unit 4 allowed for the opportunity to explore the value of presentations in an academic setting. Through my experience as an educator, athletic coach and now technology integrator, I have found that there is a pretty specific time and place for a presentation. Much of it has to do with the audience and their attention span as well, how long you have to present and most importantly what it is you are trying to share or convey; short clips of audio/video with something specific to be illustrated is usually what I do now. For example, I’m currently helping teachers understand and utilize Office 365 OneDrive. Not only will I do an actual live demo with them, but I will use various BRIEF video clips to illustrate a specific parts for better understanding. Sometime just changing up the mode of presentation is effective and it reignites the learner back into the conversation (if you have lost them).
Coupled with this, however, is time for the learner to actually ‘do’ or ‘practice’ rather than absorb from me the presenter for too long. Everyone has their saturation limit and I find the verbal introduction helps if it’s interesting (and funny!) but it must be brief. The demo would follow of a specific tool perhaps in conjunction with a visual/auditory supplement to be used for clarification or enhancement. Then, I try and allow (again depending on the time allotted) for the learner to actually apply what they have learned. And this is the part I usually do in pairs or small groups to alleviate some of the pressure and allow for collaboration. This is the part where I do less instructing and more guiding because I almost want the teachers to struggle a bit and attempt to solve the problems with the resources they’ve been given and/or by communicating with their colleagues. I also find that allowing users to reflect on the experience and report back to the large group helps them articulate and reinforce what they have learned as well as brainstorm how this new learning might be used to help improve instruction and student learning (the application piece).
(picture used with permission from http://www.creativecommons.org)
My Experience in this Unit
Two months ago our middle school counselor asked me how we could help the incoming 5th graders transition into the new 6th grade building. After batting around a few ideas we decided to create a visual presentation for the current 5th graders and their parents to see at an orientation.
I selected 3 students to collaborate with as we thought it would have more merit coming from students who had already gone through the transition. Having not been familiar with Animoto, I trained myself and the 3 students how to use and I set up an educational account they could all share. (Accounts are free but click here if you are interested in the free 6 month educational account that provides no limit on length of video: http://animoto.com/account/education/apply) Over the last 2 months we slowly gathered pictures and video and began to storyboard how we wanted to communicate all of this information. We investigated all of the tools and templates Animoto offered and applied them as needed. Here is the link to the final product: http://animoto.com/play/1g1tTB0BxIDNLf3BFbPSLg
Observations and Questions
The more I reflect on my experience regarding how presentations impact learning, I believe that short and effective is the route I’ve had the most success with. For me, at the end of the day it’s really all about relationships we build and being able to comfort each other and laugh is important too-especially in an often stressful environment like a school system.
I think presentations should be concise and engaging enough to motivate a learner to begin to create on their own…isn’t that where the real learning occurs? Too often we have administrators that talk and present…and talk more and present more. Allowing teachers to spend more time ‘doing’ has potential to allow for greater retention and not to mention the fact that learning a new tool can empower a learner. As far as presentation tools are concerned however, I like Animoto and Pow Toon too and have used them with some of my middle school students. They love it because it’s intuitive and they don’t need someone to present to them how to create a presentation!
There are so many tools available to us today-too many to be honest. I try and learn a new tool and use it each time I meet with the same group. I always want to have at least one different tool to demonstrate and share with them that can either help them professional or personally. Today for example, I spent time with our media specialists showing them how Evernote could be used for a multitude of things. Several had heard of it but never used it before. It was eye opening indeed and the applications were obvious and plentiful. My most recent presentation tools include: GoAnimate, Animoto, Educanon (flipped classroom/videos with questions/activities during the video itself), PowToon, Thing Link and Explain Everything (app). All of these are content agnostic and can be leveraged to deliver content or learning across any discipline.
The Learning Challenge afforded students and teachers the chance to learn a wealth of information from who their teachers/teams are to where their lockers are located as well as everyday procedures they will need to follow. The purpose of this video was not only to inform the viewers but to familiarize them with the schedule and routines in the new school. After the video there was ample opportunity to reflect on what they saw with follow-up questions. Hopefully the 5th graders and their parents will be more informed and at ease about making this transition.
Animoto Tutorial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKTdHIbnl4Y
More Digital Tools for Presentations: http://cooltoolsforschool.wordpress.com/thing-5-digital-storytelling-presentation-tools/
Mandell Communications. (2009). Best practices for excellent presentations in the virtual world. Retrieved from https://post.blackboard.com/bbcswebdav/pid-1870325-dt-content-rid-19160408_1/courses/EDU625.901238026230/Documents/Unit 4 Resources/mandel_best_practices_for_excellent_virtual_presentations.pdf