- Dan Meyer's daily firestorm of vidcentric ideas (amongst so much more)
- Dean Shareski's and David Jakes' continual work putting a little love into the PPt slide template game
- So many others in the edu-whatever community that are finally getting a comfy seat steering the eduprezo bandwagon towards a little spot on the outskirts of Designmattersville
...I'd like to offer yet another POV set on the what we need to teach our kiddos (and colleagues) about presentations dartboard.
Case in point: Ewan McIntosh's recent re-cap of Chris Lehmann's UBD presentation at NECC. Here are my 2 reasons why this is something to keep an eye on, presentation-wise:
The Chris Lehmann factor:
Having worked closely with Chris as a friend, colleague, blogger, and co-presenter before, I can say that his ability to anchor the big, big, big pedagogical ideas in real talk, real examples is pretty hard to match at his age (say, anyone under the age of 50 with at least 3 decades of classroom and leadership experience under his/her belt).
Besides that he ain't fooling around when it comes to what schools are all about (even the ones proclaiming to be headed into the future), he's one of the very few that can honestly swing both the John Dewey and code monkey hammers simultaneously, all while working in Hamlet and Open Source speak without missing a beat. Even better: he's as good with students as they come.
That being said, Chris' slidedeck designs -- IMHO -- haven't always lived up to the level of ideas, passion, stories, et al that he brings time and time again to every talk he gives. Don't get me wrong: he's a buddy and one of the few people in the world I'd move across country to work for/learn from. A few times in the past, however, his slidedecks have been too focused on content, bullet points. Why? Probably because he was diligent about insight and was making eye contact first/foremost.
And then a funny thing happened to the 2.0 forum. Over the last 2 years, I've watched him emerge into a guy who uses the visual nature of the slide to win both the eye and the heart without making it an pop culture art class. He's finding his groove. Slide for slide. Figuring out how to layer 2 key phrases, off-set colors, keep the eye happy, smooth transitions, images that lead to stories. Zero bullet points. As all of our slidedecks should be so lucky to be described.
And best of all: the slide are a hundred times better than what most of our fellow speakers use, and yet they still pale in comparison to what matters most: his voice/stories/ideas/passion.
The Ewan McIntosh factor:
For a while now I've been secretly harboring some serious envy of this Ewan fella. And its not what you think.
Don't get me wrong: he's a heck of a speaker, a dandy of a techie, and a sunrise of ideas when it comes to the emerging world of educational technology. Plus he's got that voice and infectious ability to pull people towards him.
But even given this list of stellar characteristics I'd love to have as my own, there is something else I've always been envious about: his photographic eye (and instinct) when he shows up to a conference. Given the dog-n-heat frenzy of hey, look, another person looking at a laptop instincts that most folks demonstrate when they try to 'visualize' the classroom of the future, Ewan grasps that it ain't about the tool or the programs. What does he know? He knows that angles, depth, light, and temperature matter in photographs. Just like they do in people/ideas. He's a photographic story-teller, almost always leading his posts with an image of something rather simple on the surface that arrests one's eye and pulls one in to follow the post breadcrumbs.
But here's the kicker. That ain't all.
Pound for pound, he's the only guy who seems to really grasp how to summarize -- in real time -- a conference presentation so that it doesn't feel like you're eating the equivalent of workshop summary paste. Where some of our best minds simply cut-n-paste their dry/unedited session notes into a blog post with zero commitment to voice or context, Ewan realizes that every post is a story with heroes and adventures and dragons and a cymbal crash at the end. At least it should be when it matters most.
His recent summary of Chris' session -- hot of the presses within seconds of it being complete -- feels like what others would need a week of brainstorming and editing to pull off, maybe. I listened/watched the UStream version of Chris' talk and then read Ewan's re-cap. I felt like I was there, in person...twice.
Sure, Ewan could have just cut-n-pasted the 'facts' of the talk and folks would have appreciated the content. But what they would have missed was the feel of the voice of the guy who kept everyone's attention rapt for the entire presentation.
I wrote the following on Ewan's blog saying as much:
Spectacular on-the-fly summary of Chris' session, Ewan. Having listened/watched all of it via the UStream connection, your summary actually comes across as a vary accurate reflection.
I've (like others, perhaps?) been made brain-dead by 99.9% of folks 'liveblogging' unfiltered session notes...with little to no 'writing' voice thrown in by them to make the notes palatable to the reader.
You, on the other hand, demonstrate how vital it is to provide 'story' and 'context' when blogging from conference/classroom sessions -- that keeps the reader fully engaged. Simply recording facts without offering a compelling 'voice' -- as so many bloggers who cut-n-paste their session notes into a post -- means that so much of what matters is lost.
Just like what happens in most classrooms, it dawns on me as I type this.
Oh, and as always: your photographic eye is arresting. Good camera magic, fella!
While I couldn't be in SA today to see it all unfold live, I gotta say that as long as guys like Chris and Ewan keep on keepin' on as presenters and writers, things are gonna be just fine! Cheers, lads, for a job well done!