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Greg McVerry

Teaching with Ignite Talks to develop #digped #edu106

4 min read

I asked by students to approach the edge. To find that balance o fear fear and enjoyment that gathers around our personal precipice. Its Ignite Talk time.

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These 20 slide presentations are image driven and the slides advanced every fifteen seconds.

Within the panic and passion students have we learn important lessons.  Mainly I want us to learn how to make slide decks not suck. Most do.

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My general rule: If I can print out your powerpoint and follow along I know your talk will drain the moisutre from my eyeballs leaving me with the desire to scratch my sockets with a rusty spoon.

In short: It will be awful.

Short Talks. Long Learning

Short concise talks are also key to digital teaching and learning. The only thing worse than sitting through an hour long lecture in collge is staring at your monitor held prisoner by a forty minute screencapture of a Powerpoint.

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No one will learn. Few will finish the video.

Instead we need to focus on short concise series of video. I build this mantra through the use of ignite talks. Even the most complex topics would benefit from being broken into a series of talks with production based activities that follow.

In terms of tutorials (learning a concrete skill in a well defined domain) I have moved away from video entirely and use gifs.

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Image Driven

Visual metaphors help with meaning making.  Through this process I have taught students how to look for images they can use under creative commons licenses.

They learn some basics of design.

Passion Based

The only caveat students were given (beyond the text structure of Ingite talks) was to teach me something. Allowing students to develop their own pathways has helped us learn to read, write and participate on the web.

Students in the class have shared personal stories, presented a photgrpahic essay on , educated us on the dangers of sun exposure, and so much more.

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Teaching and Time


15 seconds. That is all the students get per slide. It is important to  recnize that time is relative. During an ignite talk fifteeen seconds can feel like a fleeting moment or an eternity. It comes down to improv. Can you think on your feet. In many ways teaching is improv.

Next Steps

I was hoping to record all of the Ignite talks. Our Dean has just built an amazing multimedia classroom. I just couldn't get launched in time. Then  our classroom was in complete dissary. The IT departmnet has been working around the clock to update the umlimdeia classrooms. The problem , the clock moved too fast.

I could then record them in the classroom but then I have to worry about media releases. 

Students could have just recorded their screen, but a narrated slide deck, while shorter and more visually appealing still sucks.

In the end I am settling on offering a special design studio focused on recording and editing their ignite talks. Some people may want to include their Ignite talk in their final.

Plus this makes terms in balancing as Cathy noted being open with privacy and care. Ignite talks, foget the first, on the hundredth time leave you vunerable as a speaker and writer.

By not fiming a first run I am allowing my students to feel safe in class. Its a Maslow thing I guess. Safety has to come before care.

Now students who want to record their talks, plus learn some basic video editing skills, can come to design studio so we can learn together.