Faculty Brown Bag (Oct 2008)

October 16, 2008 — These notes are for an Instructional Development Brown Bag presentation that I made on this date at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan entitled “Engaging Students Through Technology.”

I use Wikidot as the host for my course wiki.

  1. Wiki
    • Professor's content
      • Syllabus: Example — the usual stuff, but the student can't misplace it.
      • Blog entries: Example, bottom right column of home page — general information from industry information or research that I read that I think some students in the class might possibly be interested in; they are not tested on this at all.
      • Announcements: Example, list of all — these contain information that every student needs to know.
    • Student content
      • Notes: Example, list of all — one student per class signs up to take notes for the class; other students can then edit the notes if they see something is amiss.
      • Exam questions: Example, list of all — one student per class is assigned to come up with questions that might be used on the exam.
      • Industry updates: Example, list of all — students do these just about one per class; they are on either Google, Yahoo, or the search industry. They take about 3-5 minutes per class.
      • Sharable data (for experiments): Example — one of the assignments for the class involved gathering data and then posting that data (with all other class members) to a wiki page so that everyone could then download the whole class's data set.
    • Student's personal wiki
      • Blogs (essays): Example — eight times during the semester, students write a 1-2 page blog entry (that they post on their private, personal wiki) about something we're doing in class. After I read and grade them, students who get the highest grades post their blog entry to the course Web site so that everyone else can see their entries.
        • Start private, but good ones become public
      • Term project: list of projects — students work on their term project on their own private wiki; this will be made public at the end of the semester. The benefit of a wiki is that I can see when and how much they work on their sites.
      • Assignments: list of all
    • Daily schedule: Example, list of all
      • Daily Announcements: see ``At beginning of class'' — instead of writing the announcements on the board, I write them at the top of the schedule page for that day.
      • My notes: see ``My notes'' — these are notes that I put together when reading an article (or articles) on the topic; generally contains the basic information that student will get out of that day's lectures and exercises.
      • My slides: see under ``Class structure'' — more than anything, this is just a note to me to remind me what to do during the class.
      • In-class demonstrations: see under ``In-class exercises'' — these are the demos that I show during the class.
      • Student exercises: Example, list of all — these are the exercises that students begin to work on after I'm done lecturing and are expected to finish before the next class.
    • Assignments: list of all
  2. Videos
    • Tutorials
    • YouTube
      • And if you go to my YouTube account you can see that one of my videos has been viewed over 3300 times! Who knew?!?!?
    • Software (for Mac)
      • iShowU (for screencast) — this software is used to capture what's happening on a screen plus a voice narrating the action.
      • QuickTime Pro (for any video or screencast) — this software is used to compress the video before uploading to a Web site.
    • Hardware
      • Flip Video (for simple videos) — an amazingly simple and effective video camera; if you're looking to easily capture an interview or a visit, this is the camera for you.
      • Samson Microphone (for screencast) — this is a high quality, easy-to-use microphone (if you're looking to upgrade from the microphone built into your computer).
  3. Presentations
    • Influences
      • The presentation is an interplay of the presenter, the slides, and the notes the presenter leaves behind.
      • The presentation style I use is based on Beyond Bullet Points by Cliff Atkinson. In addition to this book, he also maintains a related Web site. This can be a very engaging method of structuring a presentation when used in the hands of an effective presenter. I now use this presentation style for my research presentations as well as my classroom presentations.
      • I recently read Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds. He maintains a very active blog on professional presentation design. He has great insights into effective presentations that I wish I could more effectively incorporate into my everyday presentations.
      • Just a couple weeks ago I finished reading Back of the Napkin by Dan Roam. He also maintains a very interesting blog related to the content of his book. I have tried to practice this problem solving technique a few times since I read this book — I think it has the possibility of being very effective.
    • Tools
      • SlideShare
      • I use iStockPhoto as the source of photos for my presentation.
      • I use the Kensington Wireless Presentation Mouse. I use it in all presentations I give anywhere, no matter whether it's my computer or someone else's, or whether it's a Windows machine or a Mac. It's simple, it works, and it's reliable.
      • I use this green laser pointer because I have a hard time seeing the small red pointers that are normally available.
      • I use Apple's Keynote software for my presentations. I find it handles multimedia more easily than PowerPoint does, but this is probably a personal preference.
    • Process
      • Notes/diagram/scribble page: I sit down in front of a blank sheet of paper and just start writing down concepts, ideas, points that I want to make. I try to group related ideas. I try to limit the number of "sub-points" to 3 or 4; I re-group if necessary. This is my first attempt for today's presentation. After creating this document, I usually have to clean it up and re-organize the links to ensure it all makes sense; this is my second attempt.
      • BBP template: The next step is to take all of these points and construct a “story” around them. This is the heart of the Beyond Bullet Points approach and is what attracts me to these presentations. This is the filled-in template that I created for this class. Blank templates can be downloaded from this site.
      • Post-its/3x3: This step involves taking the completed template and coming up with the slides that will form the background of your story. This is where the thoughts and concepts from Presentation Zen come into play. I usually try to minimize the text from the template when translating it into a set of slides. This is also where I start conceptualizing (and sketching) what the slides will look like, and what types of images I want to use. A page of blank slides set up 3x3 on a page can be downloaded here. You can also use 2"x2" Post It notes if you feel like the slides you draw will be more fluid.
      • Create the slides: I spend a good bit of time with iStockPhoto gathering images for the slides.
      • Narration: As soon after constructing the slides as possible, I sit down and write the text that I will say for each slide. I use the “notes” feature of the software to capture this. I have a couple of observations here:
        • The text is really natural to write at this point because there is a story to tell, so the whole thing flows very naturally.
        • Having this text for future years makes preparation very very straightforward the next time you want to teach this material.
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