Psst. Hey, Teach. Make yourself ONE promise today/tonight if you have a projector/screen set-up in your room (or future):
Refuse to EVER create/give another PowerPoint (or Keynote, you Mac'ites) presentation to student or colleague again until you have taken the following steps.
Step 1: Spend some serious design/idea soul-searching time with Scott Elias' recently released teacher-oriented presentation entitled, "Taking Your Slide Deck to the Next Level". [Original blog post for those wanting context; highly recommended!] For those short on time, I'll be hinting at some of the reasons why I'm a convert of his prezo-concepts down below. He 'gets' many things on many levels that make school a healthy place to think/learn/teach/evolve. This is just one reason why you should pay attention to him. And follow his lead. Oh, and subscribe to his blog.
Step 2: Add Dan Meyer's design-is-life blog (with a cleverly positioned 'math' oriented wolf costume keeping it snuggly-warm and appropriately education-centric for all school-based new-comers) to your daily reading. Pound for pound, the ONLY consistent voice in the edu-blogger 'game' that has grasped that 2.0 tech salvation matters little if pre-design and audience-impact is not embraced with the unapologetic fever of a Ali set-up jab in Manilla. 2-way conversation and digital content are wonderful precepts for sparking new considerations of the traditional student/teacher dynamic and what it means to learn in the future, but if you don't put epic energy into what it means to 'impact/engage the audience'...we stand to embarrass our collective best intentions with Google-bits of digital content that ain't worth the free YouTube vid download it road in on. Dan may be a bit provocative in tone and reaction at times (ah, the young...), but he's a significant mind-bridge across what most of the edu-blogosphere-blathering is only toying around with these days.
Step 3: Watch Dick Hardt's 2005 "Identity 2.0" presentation to your must-watch list. It's the ONLY really decent use of "2.0" that I've seen (in spite of my own awkward use of it all-too-often)...and it's 2+ years old. He sealed the deal then. Most of the rest of us are barely able to earn a seat in his shadow. Oh, and it's a pretty cool (and humorous) use of presentation slides to make a bigger point. Other than the fact that he stays glued to his laptop in front of his audience -- which is almost forgotten given how well he keeps the audience glued in -- he shows you what it means to use slides as provocation, rather than read-word-for-word repetition.
Step 4: Spend time -- real time -- with Cliff Atkinson's "Social Media" (aka "Beyond Bullet Points") web site and tools. Absorb and make use of ANY/ALL resources he offers for free. Consider why EVERY educator in the free world who has finger-grabbin' access to a projector is not MORALLY OBLIGATED and PROFESSIONALLY BOUND to consider his ideas when presenting to a student/colleague audience.
Step 5: Realize that if you are truly serious about the digital media revolution planting a flag in your classroom (or atop your bloggy-blog-blog ideas), you are only scratching the surface after all of this. Find an authentic design-void 12-step program that can help you admit your/our complete addiction to poorly conceived content-driven presentation slides that have a near-zero ability to convey the depth of meaning nor the value of story when an audience is supposed to care what we believe is valuable. Or true. Seek every possible design-centric and storyboard-empowered presentation idea you can, especially those that have NOTHING to do with education as you/we know it. Do not stop there. Realize it is a life journey that demands more than just being a teacher-of-content expert. And accept that your students/audiences' deserve nothing less than an unapologetic commitment to something better than that silly ol' bullet-point template you're/we're crushing their brains and souls with more often than we are willing to admit.
Step 6: Go back to Scott's presentation. It'll be good for the soul. Here are a few reasons that jumped out at me tonight:
Slide 3: The quick write moment. What matters is NOT the speaker's knowledge. All that matters is what the audience's goals are. One may wonder if we embrace this in our own classrooms, too. It would be ironic -- at best -- if we thought there were a distinction/gap here.
Slide 4: The unexpected (and spot-on) Malcolm/Ghandi moment. Remember, they didn't need slides to put goosebumps on the arms of their audience (live or years later). "YOU ARE" the presentation. Not the slides. Ah. Salvation might be around the corner after all.
Slides 7-9: Information overload. Death by bullets. How many words/minute a student can write down vs. how many we can read. This is obvious, but vital.
Slide 16: White on black. Effective. Simple. Powerful. Thankfully done by a few, while the majority still don't get it.
Slide 25: Guy is the guy. A great reminder to check out this business/design/presentation demi-god for all the teachers who think 'business' is a dirty word. Perhaps one of the best educators on the planet, and he's hanging out as a venture capitalist in a 'garage' somewhere in Silicon Valley. The 10-20-30 rule is a gold. Pure gold.
Slides 34-36. My eyes hurt. My brain is numb. Perhaps we can do better?
Slide 37. Wait, maybe there's salvation. Ah. Feeling, much, much better!
Slides 38-43. Haven't we been here before? And lovingly so. Great summary. Vital. Simple. All aboard!
P.S. Hey, Dan. Scott ain't half-bad for a design "amateur", huh? (he smiles)