Presenting without Powerpoint
I have been asked several times to blog a “how to present without PowerPoint” post, so due to popular demand here it is!
The first question of course is WHY? Apparently almost everyone, including mobile learning experts, default to using PowerPoint to ‘present’ and ‘teach’ – and herein is the key issue – it’s about changing the traditional teaching/learning paradigm that is all about transmission of content. I am interested in participatory and social forms of teaching and learning, and this is very difficult to do using PowerPoint. The second key issue is about enabling interaction and access beyond the model of locking the course content away until after the class, when the PowerPoint files are typically uploaded to the LMS for students to download and review after the class. The problem with this typical scenario is that there is no possibility of discussion or conversation before the class, students must have a copy of Microsoft Office to view the class content, and the PowerPoint slides are generally devoid of context or the class interaction and conversation that (hopefully) accompanied the ‘presentation’. This can be alleviated somewhat by uploading your PowerPoint slides to an openly accessible online host such as Slideshare, however the teaching/learning paradigm remains fundamentally unchanged.
Recently I tweeted during a particularly boring conference presentation:
Thank you for reading your PowerPoint slides to me #ectel2013
19/09/13 10:46 PM
Which generated more discussion than the presentation: https://twitter.com/thomcochrane/status/380644059578392577
I received a reply from @jontrinder
This Dilbert comic strip provides a great summary of many PowerPoint presentation experiences
More recently @ATZ119 provided a link to a blog post about presenting without PowerPoint that I think summaries many of the issues:
This blog post describes the writer’s experience of participating in a presentation that was devoid of PowerPoint, that used live interaction with web content instead, and the ‘fear’ that this engendered in the writer when they contemplated doing the same http://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/technology-and-learning/presenting-without-powerpoint#! This got me motivated to make this blog post 🙂
Another key issue for me is that the vast majority of the world now access the Internet through their smartphones or other mobile devices (See the ITU 2013 statistics) – so material needs to be mobile accessible – PowerPoint or Slideshare are barely mobile accessible formats. Since the ability to screen mirror mobile devices has become baked into the OS of iOS, Android and Win8 over the past two years, mobile devices are now incredibly interactive and flexible presentation and teaching tools – no longer limited to personal productivity due to small screen size.
So what do I use? The tools I use need to be:
- Mobile friendly – accessible either by a mobile web browser or a mobile App
- Shareable for open access
- Make the most of the affordances built into smartphones: camera, audio, video, geolocation, QR codes, augmented reality etc…
- Synchronised across my several mobile devices
- Provide opportunities for learner response/interaction/conversation/commenting
- Provide opportunities for serendipitous input from a global community
I have facilitated workshops on using these tools with @vnarayan for example:
Generally I will use a Mashup of mobile social media tools, linked via an outline with ‘live’ links via Evernote – a shareable mobile friendly multimedia note-taking App that is also a powerful presentation tool.
Because all my resources are collated and curated using social media, such as YouTube, Picasaweb, Soundcloud, Twitter, Storify, AudioBoo, etc… the Evernote page provides links to this media, which can either be viewed within Evernote’s own browser, opened in Safari (on iOS), or opened in the appropriate App. This approach requires a decent Internet connection, either via WiFi or 3G/4G as a backup. Generally I will purchase a local 3G/4G data SIM at the airport of whatever country I am visiting as my backup connectivity option. Increasingly Eduroam WiFi is available on University campuses in NZ/Australia/UK/Europe. My Evernote page is effectively a window into my online curated content that can be accessed via any Internet connected mobile device (smartphone, tablet, laptop) or desktop computer.
I will usually preload any video files onto my mobile device for off-line presenting just in case, and use the native video App to present these. Switching between mobile Apps is far quicker and less obtrusive than switching between Applications on the fly on a laptop or desktop.
My basic suite of presentation tools includes:
- Evernote as the outline/launcher and shared resource link
- A QRCode and URL shortener and Twitter for sharing the Evernote URL
- YouTube playlists for video
- Picasaweb for albums used as curated slideshows & embedded video – cached offline (just in case) via the Web Albums App
- Soundcloud or AudioBoo for audio files, also cached via the built-in media player/library of my mobile device
- A Twitter hashtag as a back-channel/discussion forum
- Todaysmeet for the Twitter adverse
- Mendeley and ResearchGate for sharing references
- Google Maps and Google Earth for geolocated content – adding context to web hosted content
- Wikitude for locally accessible geolocation content
To facilitate live mobile device screen mirroring I use:
- either an AppleTV connected to a video projector via HDMI
- or the Airserver App (http://airserverapp.com) my MacBookAir connected to a video projector
- Airplay over WiFi directly from my iPhone and iPad so that I can be mobile – and this also means no accidental disconnections of the VGA/HDMI adaptor to the iPad/iPhone when you accidentally move them!
- A decent audio system connected to either the AppleTV or MacBookAir
That is basically my mobile-friendly, audience participatory, presentation toolkit!
Sometimes I will use Prezi on the iPad or iPhone, however I find most people merely substitute Prezi for PowerPoint, rather than leveraging the collaborative editing and presentation facilities of Prezi, so I minimise my use of it, using it within a broader suite of mobile social media tools for a bit of variety, rather than do a complete presentation using only Prezi.
The key is getting comfortable with risk – being able to troubleshoot connectivity issues, and building in conversation/interaction into any presentation. The world of mobile social media is a rapidly changing space, and so experimenting with new tools is essential. Curating your content on social media sites means that you are not limited to one presentation tool and you can immediately share content and embed your content within Twitter conversations etc… and I can change my presentation notes and linked media anywhere anytime as inspiration happens or in response to the group of learners on the fly.
Here’s a couple of example presentations if you are interested: