SLANZA 2015: Lots to Learn from our NZ Neighbours!

By Kay Oddone

In September, I was honoured to take part in the School Library Association of New Zealand’s biennial conference, in Christchurch. Presenting a workshop and keynote, I was delighted to meet many of the amazing professionals who do a wonderful job managing school libraries across the North and South Islands, many of whom go above and beyond to ensure that NZ students have access to contemporary, effective and high quality information and resourcing services.

The three days passed in a blur of conversations, author breakfasts, conference dinners, keynotes and workshops, and reading back through the three Storify collections I created which collated the huge number of tweets shared (we trended in both New Zealand and Australia on several occasions!), I was compelled to write this blog post to share with others the rich learning that took place.

Below you can access the three storify articles, but for those short on time, and who would like to dip their toes into the learning, I have also created a Haiku Deck slideshow that attempts to capture just some of the themes of the conference. Click on the image below to view the slides.

The keynotes were fascinating in that almost every one raised the pressing issue of workforce change, and how technology, automation and globalisation are rapidly bearing down on us. For educators, we are on the precipice- skills previously valued will no longer be of use, and students live in a world which requires new ways of information management, cognitive load management, higher-level and different types of communication skills as well as the ability to learn quickly, manage constant change and think creatively. Research such as the articles pinned on my Futures Pinterest board all point to the need for a re-think in what students learn, and how they learn it; as jobs are automated, outsourced or radically re-imagined.

The storify collections below contain fascinating reading; take some time to be inspired, to discover and to make connections with the School Librarians of New Zealand; and share your thoughts in the comments below!

storify day 1

storify day 2

storify day 3

What does it all Meme? The whys and wherefores of a modern communication phenomenon.


See more on Know Your Meme

By Kay Oddone.

An internet meme is that thing that everyone is talking about. The blue/gold dress. Charlie bit my finger. LOLCats. Some of the most well known internet memes are the image with a pithy quote overlaid. They can be in turns hilariously funny, insightful or just crude, however they are a contemporary form of communication which many young people seem to instinctively ‘get’ and which leave many adults feeling like they are missing the joke.

The term meme was coined in 1976 by Richard Dawkins, in his book The Selfish Gene, as a way of using evolutionary principles to explain the spread of ideas and cultural phenomena such as melodies, catchphrases or fashion. These small units of culture were spread through imitation and innovation upon an original idea – a spread that is similar to a virus, as they go through the processes of variation, mutation, competition, and inheritance, each of which influences a meme’s reproductive success.

The meme above, known as ‘One does not simply’ is a good example. Drawn from a quote from The Lord of the Rings, where the character Boromir makes the quote “One does not simply walk into Mordor”.


The meme spread across sites such as Reddit, Tumblr and Imgur, with variations firstly on the word walk –

See more on Know Your Meme

 

See more on Know Your Meme

 

and became so well known it was included as an Easter Egg on Google Maps:
Google_Maps_'Mordor'_easter_egg

Now, the phrase “one does not simply” is well known enough that memes such as the one shared at the beginning of this post can be applied to a wide range of scenarios, with an underlying understanding of the context – that whatever is being suggested is no simple matter.

It is this rich intertextuality that makes memes both worthwhile, yet challenging. One must know the context of the initial post before the meme truly makes sense, but if the shared understanding is strong enough, the meme becomes a powerful and viral mode of communication.

Internet memes, and their viral spread, are an example of participatory culture, as the reproduction, imitation and re-interpretation of these nuggets of society are practices which have become a huge part of contemporary digital culture. In fact, Limor Shifman, in her text Memes in Digital Culture goes so far as to say that we live in an era driven by a hypermemetic logic, where almost every major public event sprouts a stream of memes. He argues that although at first glance they appear to be trivial pieces of pop culture, upon deeper reflection one sees that they play an integral part in some of the defining events of the 21st century.

Limor Shifman also takes the time to define internet memes differently to the original concept of a single cultural unit as described by Dawkins. Her definition describes an internet memes  as

(a) a group of digital items sharing common characteristics of content, form, and/or stance; (b) that were created with awareness of each other; and (c) were circulated, imitated, and transformed via the internet by multiple users. – http://henryjenkins.org/2014/02/a-meme-is-a-terrible-thing-to-waste-an-interview-with-limor-shifman-part-one.html#sthash.NfZt8OrC.dpuf

So why do educators need to be aware of memes and their role in communicating culture? They don’t. Educators don’t NEED to be aware of memes, anymore than they must play Minecraft or read Twilight. However, there are several compelling reasons to consider taking the time to think about memes and how they might play a role in teaching – particularly of older students.

Reason One: Engagement

It is true – memes are fun. They can be playful, humorous and, well, there is a reason they spread so quickly. Select use of memes can hook students in, and challenging students to create a meme actually demands higher order thinking at a level students often are not required to meet. The need to not only respond to a context, but respond creatively and concisely is difficult, and the most successful internet memes are often actually very clever. This is not to say all memes are clever; like everything online, there are many in poor taste, and with little depth. However an example of inferential comprehension required to understand a meme is evident with the popular ‘Soon’ meme:


See more on Know Your Meme

What appears to be an innocent cow in a field is rendered threatening by the simple addition of the word ‘Soon’…why is this so?

Reason Two: Information Literacy

Dr Alec Couros argues that the digital participatory culture within which students communicate, socialise and learn provides essential opportunities for information literacy, and suggests that memes are a powerful way of discussing many different aspects of this literacy. He begins by suggesting that students examine memes with a view to understanding how information travels and is distributed online. The viral nature of memes means that whether by merit, messenger or manipulation, a chunk of information/culture/art may be spread via networks at an astonishingly fast pace. Students who understand this are not only more likely to be aware of their responsibilities when sharing online, but are also more prepared for a world where marketing is pervasive.

Reason Three: Critical understanding of current world events

The Australian controversy with our previous Federal Parliamentary speaker is a very recent example of current events becoming a viral meme (helicopters anyone?).


See more on Know Your Meme

One which we can examine with the benefit of hindsight is below:


See more on Know Your Meme

In a hypermemetic world, it is completely possible that current events filter into our Facebook feed as a meme before we even realise the deeper story behind them. A case in point is the Pepper Spray Cop (also known as “Casually Pepper Spray Everything Cop”) –
See more on Know Your Meme

which went viral after the image of a police officer casually pepper spraying a group of Occupy protesters at the University of California  was captured in 2011.
See more on Know Your Meme

The image was photoshopped into a variety of contexts, which enflamed what was already a very tense political situation, and when the police officer’s contact details were made public online, he was the target of a huge text and email campaign critiquing his actions. This meme influenced news reports, customer reviews of pepper spray available for sale on Amazon and spawned songs and videos. The repercussions of this single (questionable) action resulted in the resignation of the police chief and the loss of the police officers job, as well as compensation claims and legal suits. The full detail of this meme can be read on Know Your Meme, however it is clear that a much larger and more serious story lies behind what many probably thought was a humorous internet joke.

Internet memes are an interpretation of the fad joke that has always been there, however with the power of the crowd and the potential to manipulate and remix in the hands of so many, they have become a much larger part of internet and general culture. It is important to be aware of the complexity behind many of these simple jokes (and be able to enjoy the ones that are indeed just simple jokes).

Have you taught using Memes? Please share your experiences and resources in the comments!

 

References:

Couros, A. (n.d.). open thinking [Blog]. Retrieved 11 August 2015, from http://educationaltechnology.ca/couros/
Gladwell, M. (2002). The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. Boston: Back Bay Books.
Internet Meme Database | Know Your Meme. (n.d.). Retrieved 11 August 2015, from http://knowyourmeme.com/
Shifman, L. (2013). Memes in Digital Culture. Cambridge MA: The MIT Press.

 

#Edutechau – Report from the 2015 Edutech Conference

This is why we must have events like Edutech.

The Edutech Conference is the largest of its kind in Australia. Over 1000 delegates, participating in streams reaching broadly across the educational landscape; K-12 Leadership, Teacher Librarianship, IT Directors, Higher Ed, Vocational Education and Training, Tertiary Education, Business Managers – basically if you are in education, there is a stream for you.

The world is undeniably changing, and we must prepare students for a future which will be significantly different to our own experiences. Many speakers, including David Price, author of Open, How We’ll Work, Live and Learn in the Future, pointed out that the rate of technology development is rapidly shaping the skills and capacities required by today’s learners. While the entire 15 minutes of the following video is fascinating viewing, here’s just the final summary, which paints a challenge for everyone in education and indeed in government today:

It wasn’t all doom and gloom though. George Couros asked us to remember that sometimes, it can be easy to be drawn into the myths of technology, and be swayed by the negative hyperbole of the media. His stirring keynote reminded us that there is a lot to be gained from the connections social media enables us to create; both from a learning and a personal point of view. He presented strong challenges to the myths of technology; that it automatically ensures engagement and that connecting with strangers online is inherently dangerous He also argued against the common beliefs that technology will make us narcissistic, replace face to face interaction and dehumanise us, while also making us dumb! You can read more about each of these on George’s blog, where he addresses each of these myths.

One of the highlights of the 3 days was the effervescent Super Awesome Sylvia, who’s have a go attitude and maker videos have brought her world wide attention at age 13. Her short keynote was a great example of ‘feel the fear, and do it anyway’ – she was clearly nervous (as any normal person speaking in front of such a huge crowd would be), but she spoke with passion and simplicity, encouraging everyone to take on a maker mindset, see failure as part of learning and learn through play.

2015-06-09_0933Personally, I had great fun presenting to a group on the value of developing your Personal/Professional/Passionate Learning Network, using Social Media, and also was honoured to be a part of a panel which included Joyce Valenza, Jane Viner and led by Debbie Hunter, where we discussed the value and importance of curation for the Australian Curriculum.

 

Reporting on such a massive conference is challenging, as it is physically impossible to participate in the workshops run simultaneously by world class speakers, and even a keen eye on the mind-boggling tweet stream could only give a glimpse at the amount of information being trafficked. My summary below is just a tiny snapshot. I have included also as many links as I could to the speakers’ handouts, websites or resources, as well as the links to my Storify Summaries, which are on the final page of the presentation below, which was created in my latest tool ‘discovery’, E-Maze.

The video below tries to capture some of the emerging themes of the conference. You can view it at a more leisurely pace, viewing the videos and accessing the hyperlinks (the little orange ‘play’ symbol indicates if a word or phrase is a hyperlink, and every web address should also link directly out) viewing it online here.

If you would like to read more deeply into some of the wisdom shared via twitter by accessing the three Storify summaries I have created – one for each day.

2015-06-09_08282015-06-09_0828_0012015-06-09_0828_002 This was my first experience of Edutech. It was a great confirmation of the work we are doing at schools in Brisbane Catholic Education, and an opportunity to meet with likeminded educators who all share the belief that being an educator is an ongoing learning experience. Share your Edutech experience in the comments below!

 

 

Changing Spaces, Changing Minds – Libraries and Learning Spaces as Places of the Future

Today my colleague and I were fortunate to participate in a workshop run by the passionate and inspiring Liz McGettigan, who is the Director of Digital Experiences at SOLUS. The workshop was entitled Changing Spaces, Changing Minds, and focused on  how to combine the physical with the virtual in public spaces. Although the workshop was aimed at Librarians, and investigated Liz’ and the participants’ experiences in libraries, many of the ideas and concepts could easily be adapted to apply to any learning space.

2015-02-09_1601

Like many institutions, libraries are currently in a state of flux. Whereas once libraries were a fount of knowledge, and librarians the gatekeepers of information, today, everyone has the world’s information in their pocket. So how do libraries (and many would argue schools) remain creative, relevant and sustainable community spaces where rich, real and relevant learning occurs? Just like in Will Richardson’s text Why School? (a extended essay which for $3.10 is a must read for anyone involved in education), Liz challenged us to step away from negative mindsets limited by funding shortages and staff cuts, and instead to embrace a new way of thinking about libraries, which focuses on leadership and vision.

“At a time when the provision of knowledge and culture is increasingly digital and screen-based, the value and importance of high-quality physical spaces and experiences is growing, not diminishing” Roly Keating, CEO British Library.

This quote by Roly Keating set the stage for an important discussion – how to effectively combine the physical and the virtual – to find the right balance so that library is seen not as a dusty remnant of the past, but as a living incubator of ideas, learning and innovation. The clues for how to achieve this are in the strategies employed by the commercial sector – entrepreneurial vision, effective marketing and meeting user needs – indeed, Liz encouraged us to ‘shake of our modesty’ and promote the wonderful work libraries do, and to make sure everyone knows that the library they remember from their childhood is now a completely different space!

The libraries of yesterday are nothing like the centres of creation and inspiration they are today!

The libraries of yesterday are nothing like the centres of creation and inspiration they are today!

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Super Furry Librarian
creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by The Daring Librarian

Learning Spaces(4)

Here in ResourceLink, we have been working at combining the physical space with the digital for some time. We have re-designed our physical space to create a more open, welcoming atmosphere, with more areas for groups to meet and work, inspired by the work of David Thornburg, Ewan McIntosh, Bruce Mau Design and others as you can see in this infographic I created to the right (click for a larger image):

We have played with Augmented Reality, both as a learning tool and as a way of engaging our users in our displays and resources, which we shared in this blog in the article Bringing Augmented Reality to Life – in the classroom and the workplace

A staff member viewing Rick's video explanation using an iPod touch. Students using mobile devices to view the past and the future with Augmented Reality

A staff member viewing Rick’s video explanation using an iPod touch.
Students using mobile devices to view the past and the future with Augmented Reality

We deliver a hybrid collection of resources, including physical items, digital and online resources through our online catalogue. Indeed, my colleagues and I joke that we would like our library management system to be one day ‘greater than Google!’. We use a range of different tools for information service delivery, including social curation tools such as Pinterest, Diigo and Bag the Web and social catalogues like Library Thing (click these links to see some of our collections).

The BCE Digital Library is delivered via our online library catalogue and enables students and staff at all 137 BCE schools to access ebooks and audiobooks.

The BCE Digital Library is delivered via our online library catalogue and enables students and staff at all 137 BCE schools to access ebooks and audiobooks.

Additionally, we provide access to e-books and audiobooks using the Overdrive platform, integrated within our library management system. Also included in the catalogue are bibliographic records linking to resources that include online video clips, websites and app reviews. Users may also search and access a selection of alternative providers from within the catalogue. This carefully evaluated and up to date list of alternative providers include Getty Images, Khan Academy, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Australian National Library.

In doing so, it is hoped that if no physical item is available to meet the user’s needs, there is a far greater chance that the information the user is seeking will be available via one of these alternative formats or avenues.

makeyWe have also dabbled in Makerspaces, creating kits that schools can borrow so that they can play and learn. The development of these kits was inspired by the work of Gary Stager and Sylvia Martinez, and was informed by the best use of our space, and the needs of our users, which are mainly schools. You can read about these kits, and see how we put them together in these blog posts, Resourcing the Maker Movement and  Running a Maker Faire.

With a focus on learning, creating and innovating, ResourceLink also has a production room, where we create many short films working with other members of staff at Brisbane Catholic Education. One of our productions was created to introduce users to our Digital Library collection:

What’s next for ResourceLink? Inspired by Liz McGettigan’s workshop, we hope to venture more fully into the social media space, engaging with our users more regularly in the virtual world, and spending more time developing our knowledge around online learning. We aim to continue developing our content and to work towards truly being an incubator of ideas, inspiration and imagination.

 

Creative Commons and Flickr – a solution found!

Flickr

I’ve written before about the amazing collection of Creative Commons images that are available on Flickr, which are perfect for students (and teachers!) to use when creating any sort of visual content.  It is so important that as educators we model the use of Creative Commons licenced materials, because even though we do have some flexibility in education due to various copyright exceptions, if students wish to publish their work publicly these exceptions do not apply.

You can read more about Creative Commons if you are new to this term on this previous post on the ResourceLink blog.

Unfortunately, the solution which is described in this earlier post, using Greasemonkey to access Creative Commons licence information came unstuck late last month, when Flickr updated their image pages, which ‘broke’ the script.

As Cory Doctorow writes in this article about this issue, having no easy access to this Creative Commons licence information is extremely frustrating; such a wonderful range of images, which are so very difficult to attribute puts users off, and certainly sent me off looking to other sources for images when I was putting together some presentations last week.

The solution Cory suggests, using the Attributr script available through Github is terrific, but not for the faint hearted. It isn’t easy to navigate Github and get the script working; in fact, after reading this Lifehackr article about Github, I decided to look elsewhere for a solution.

2014-04-14_1305_001

Thankfully, Alan Levine, the creator of the original Greasemonkey script that I blogged about earlier, has again come to the rescue! He also has used Github to create a bookmarklet, but the difference is he’s designed it in such a way that it is really easy to use.

Simply go to his page (click the screen grab image above to access it), click on the Bookmarklet button and drag it up to your bookmark toolbar.

Now, when you go to any page on Flickr which has a Creative Commons Licenced image on it, click on the bookmarklet button, and a window will pop up with all of the attribution information you need! Too easy!

It looks just like this:

This means once again it is so easy to attribute creative commons images found on Flickr – and this is thanks to the work of others sharing their scripts and work generously under a Creative Commons Licence which allows us all to benefit from their technical skills. So thank you Cory Dodt (even though I found your solution too complicated for me) and thank you Alan Levine (Work found at http://cogdogblog.com/flickr-cc-helper/ / CC BY-SA 3.0) and thank you also to all of the other creators who share their work via Open Source or under a Creative Commons licence; together we is bigger than me!


creative commons licensed ( BY-SA ) flickr photo shared by opensourceway

Resourcing the Australian Curriculum: Building Digital Collections – a review

2013-09-11_1125Members of the ResourceLink team were recently privileged to participate in the Syba Academy and SCIS sponsored seminar ‘Resourcing the Australian Curriculum: Building Digital Collections Conference’.

This seminar was of great interest to us, as ResourceLink has been working hard over the past 18 months to deliver a digital library to all schools in the Brisbane Catholic Education (BCE) Archdiocese. This roll-out, which is a product of collaboration with BCE Information Services, Softlink and Overdrive, has been one of the ways we are supporting the provision and modelling of contemporary library services. We have also been focusing on enriching our collection to provide a wide range of both physical and digital resources, including websites, apps, streaming videos and lists of curated sites, and so we were eager to learn more about whether we were taking the right approach, and how to improve our processes and protocols.

We were thrilled when the organisers contacted us, and asked if we would also share our journey in delivering the BCE Digital Library as part of the day, by participating in a panel of speakers sharing their experiences.

speakers-photo

Speakers included Lyn Hay, CSU, Pru Mitchell, SCIS, Colleen Foley, NSW DET, David Munnoch, Trinity Grammar School, and Kay Cantwell, ResourceLink.

Building Digital Collections

The day began with a keynote from Lyn Hay Lecturer and Course Coordinator of the Master of Applied Science (Teacher Librarianship), at Charles Sturt University. Lyn’s keynote gave an overview of the value and importance of  building digital collections. She presented an overwhelming array of research and evidence which demonstrated how school libraries,  qualified teacher librarians and rich collections of both physical and digital resources positively impact upon student achievement and improved literacy levels.

Many are questioning the need for libraries, as access to information appears ubiquitous. With the answer to every question seemingly a ‘Google’ away, it is a common misconception that libraries and library staff are no longer needed. Hay’s presentation concisely demonstrated why this is untrue, highlighting a wide range of research, including:

  • Stephen Krashen on the role of reading in literacy development,
  • Francis, Lance, & Lietzau, (2010) on the role of school libraries and their impact on student achievement
  • Softlink (2012) on the positive relationship between literacy results and school library resourcing and
  • Hughes (2013) on how the ratio of library staff to students has a significant effect on student achievement in reading and writing

The presentation also pointed out how libraries and the provision of digital as well as physical collections provide not only what users need and demand, but also provide equity of access, which are two of the underlying reasons why BCE went ahead with the provision of the Digital Library in a centralised way – to offer equity and access to a wide and balanced collection to complement the schools’ existing physical collections.

Hay also highlighted (literally) the huge number of content descriptions within the Australian Curriculum that are able to be resourced by libraries which offer both physical and digital resources – and that the inclusion of ebooks and audiobooks in any school collection was, in her words, ‘a no-brainer’, simply because of the number of learning opportunities they offered in supporting the introduction of the Australian Curriculum, and in learning areas well beyond English, including History, Science and Geography, as well as General Capabilities and meeting the needs of diverse students.

eBooks and eLending

2013-09-11_1423The session after morning tea was presented by Pru Mitchell and Colleen Foley, and together they focused on eBooks and eLending, and how the provision of a digital collection is vital for 21st century education.  Pru focused on the considerations schools need to make before launching into  digital library provision, while Colleen spoke about links to the curriculum, and reported on the NSW Department of Education trial of a digital library in schools, which they reported on in Ebooks for Leisure and Learning. The report found that students and teachers both reported increased enjoyment in reading, and students believed that using ebooks improved their writing, independent reading and creativity, while teacher librarians noted an improvement in reading comprehension. You can read more in the November 2012 Scan article ‘Ebooks for Leisure and Learning‘ by Colleen Foley.

Both presentations confirmed the processes and protocols BCE has put in place for the delivery of our Digital Library. These strategies included the importance of providing a range of both digital and physical resources to learners, the necessity for those implementing the systems to have a strong and shared understanding of digital rights management and different licensing agreements and to have a plan for providing centralised access to all resources, whether physical or digital, through the institution’s library management system.

BCE is fortunate that strategic planning had already led to all schools within BCE converting to the Oliver Library Management System in the years prior to the delivery of the Digital Library. This has enabled us to deliver access to the ebooks and audiobooks by centrally exporting records into each school’s library catalogue, ensuring that all users across BCE schools have equal access. It also has meant that complex licensing agreements can be managed centrally.

eBooks and eReaders: Panel of Practice

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo by KimCarpenter NJ: http://flickr.com/photos/kim_carpenter_nj/7565537700/

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo by KimCarpenter NJ: http://flickr.com/photos/kim_carpenter_nj/7565537700/

The panel of practice session featured David Munnoch, sharing his experiences rolling out a variety of digital resource platforms at his school library at Trinity Grammar School, and my own presentation on our experiences in the delivery of the BCE Digital Library for the Archdiocese. A summary of what I presented is available here.

The afternoon session focused on maximising access to digital resources. Lyn Hay presented a very comprehensive overview on the importance of content curation as a role of the contemporary library, and Pru Mitchell gave participants a rundown on the value of providing a library catalogue to users that provides one point of access for all library resources.

Content Curation

This image at http://www.bethkanter.org/good-curation-vs-bad-curation/ is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 2.5 License.

Content curation is a huge field, and worthy of its own blog post. ResourceLink has been engaging in content curation for some time, using many of the tools Hay discussed, including Pinterest, Storify and of course Diigo. Not just creating lists of links, content curation is the selection of specific online resources, which are value-added to in the form of a contextualised commentary. Examples of ResourceLink’s curation include our Diigo lists to support the Religious Education Curriculum the ResourceLink Pinterest boards and the use of Storify to compile tweets shared at various professional learning events (such as the Storify created for this very seminar!).

Resource Discovery and Maximising Access

Pru Mitchell’s presentation about library catalogues was also affirming, as ResourceLink has been working to model contemporary collection development and cataloguing. Pointing to articles from Joyce Valenza and Judy O’Connell, Mitchell outlined how a rich collection of digital and physical resources, well catalogued, enhances user access, as they are more likely to experience success finding quality resources to meet their needs from an OPAC search than from a Google search, where the amount of irrelevant information is so overwhelming. A library catalogue can provide a central point of access to a range of materials, and even across library collections – for example, the ResourceLink library catalogue allows users to search across our own collection and our Digital Library collection, as well as Trove, Scootle and the Film and Sound Archive, from within the same interface.

Thank you Syba Academy and SCIS

Syba Academy and SCIS have put together a fantastic seminar here, which all Teacher Librarians and those involved in resourcing schools should consider attending.  The day had an air of positivity, as Teacher Librarians and those who support resourcing in schools were reminded not only of the key role they play in education, but also of the exciting, challenging and ever expanding world in which they inhabit. Libraries are no longer confined to four walls and rows of shelves – they can be the portal to a wealth of resources, and a place for meeting, learning, exploring, inventing, creating and so much more!

We at ResourceLink have accepted this challenge, and are constantly investigating new ways to support our clients. In an age of ‘infowhelm’, libraries and librarians are best placed to support information management and access, and we use the best tools available to make this possible.

cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by LibraryGirlCC

 

Creating Quality Presentations Part Two: Nuts and Bolts

 

nuts and bolts

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo by Pot Noodle: http://flickr.com/photos/maggiew/6121970836/

Now the previous post has given you  an overview of the basics for creating a great presentation, the following information will focus on ‘how to’ actually produce it.

Choose your Tool

Your first decision when creating a presentation is deciding which tool best suits the purpose. The main players for presentations are PowerPoint (Windows), Keynote (Mac) and Prezi (Online).

PowerPoint, Keynote or Prezi

There are also mobile apps that create presentations, which are useful if you are on the move.

PowerPoint is the best known application in this area. Superb presentations can be created using PowerPoint – Nancy Duarte has created an amazing example of just how far PowerPoint can be pushed, which can be viewed here. PowerPoint is easy to use, although it can sometimes be a little unreliable when embedding video, (more on this later) and many of its pre-designed themes and templates are less than appealing.

Keynote is only available to those operating on the Mac platform. It performs the same role as PowerPoint, however some argue its design is sleeker and it is known to be able to handle video and music files more capably than PowerPoint.

What is Prezi

Click the image to go to a Prezi presentation explaining Prezi in further detail.

Prezi is a relative newcomer, but it is growing in popularity. Prezi is online, and stores your presentations ‘in the cloud’, although for a modest subscription you can download a desktop editor, which allows you to work in an offline mode.

Prezi is not based on linear slides, but has an unlimited canvas, onto which you place your content. As you design your Prezi, you create a ‘path’ which directs the order in which this content is presented. Being a canvas, Prezi is terrific for creating non-linear presentations, as you can zoom in and out to view the big picture or focus on smaller details, and the design is not limited by slide size. A tutorial on getting started with Prezi  can be downloaded here. Click the image to view a brief Prezi on what Prezi is all about.

A beautiful mobile device presentation app is Haiku Deck. The focus of Haiku Deck is to create image based slides, with minimal text. Built into the app is a search of Creative Commons licenced images, and it automatically places the attribution onto the image, which is a huge time saver. If you have access to an iPad, it is worth exploring. Below is an example of a Haiku Deck slide.Haiku deck slide example

Start Creating

    • Slide Layout

Avoid using the standard templates, if at all possible. There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, they are not original or memorable. As PowerPoint is used so commonly, the layouts will make your slides seem just like everyone else’s. Secondly, the templates provided encourage the creation of slideuments – encouraging headings and subheadings, dot points and even two columns of information on the one slide.

    • Colour Matters
Ishihara colour perception test

Example of an Ishihara color test plate. The numeral “74” should be clearly visible to viewers with normal color vision.

What looks amazing on the computer may not display as well when projected on a screen. The size and brightness of the room and strength of the projector can impact upon the colours, rendering some colour combinations unreadable. Another consideration is that approximately 8% of men suffer from colour-blindness (Victorian Department of Health and Safety,2013). Therefore the choice of background colour, text colour and the use of contrast are all important.

    • Finding Quality Images

The vast majority of images found through Google Images are copyrighted. When presenting to an audience, replicating images you do not have permission to use breaches copyright. Fortunately, there are a number of sources of images you can use, and these sources are growing.Creative Commons licenced images are an alternative to copyrighted images. Whereas copyright works on an all rights reserved model, Creative Commons licences allow the creator of the work to state which rights they choose to reserve (e.g. non-commercial indicates the creator reserves the right to prohibit commercial use of their creation). Images can also be labelled Public Domain, which means anyone is free to use them. These images are usually commonly used symbols, or images that have passed out of copyright.

A comprehensive explanation of Creative Commons, Public Domain and Copyright is available on the Copyright and Copyleft wiki.

If you have a budget for the presentation, you can purchase images from one of the many stock photo companies online. We have found iStockphoto to have an excellent range, and reasonably priced.

If you have no funds, don’t despair! There are many other excellent sources of creative commons licenced and free images and quality clipart.

Flickr Creative Commons – a huge range of photos all licenced to be used under various CC Licences.

Wikimedia Commons – a database of over 16 million freely usable media files to which anyone can contribute.

Clker  royalty free public domain clip art in vector format and in image PNG format. It also allows you to make simple edits to these images.

    • Inserting Video

Insert video optionsInserting video in PowerPoint can be problematic. PowerPoint offers three options for inserting video.

Inserting a video from file is essentially the same as inserting an image. You browse to where the file is located, and click insert. There are a number of caveats on this simple process.

a)   Keep the video file and the PowerPoint file in the same folder. The video is not embedded into the PowerPoint, it ‘links’ to it, so if you move the PowerPoint (say onto a data key to transport to the presentation location) and you don’t move the video file as well, the video will fail to load. Moving the entire folder with all linked files goes some way to resolving this (although it is good to test at the presentation location, as sometimes videos need to be ‘reinserted’).

b)  If you have a video stored as a file on your hard drive, you should either own this video or have permission to store it. Downloading YouTube videos without the permission of the creator is a breach of copyright.

Inserting a video from a website
can be problematic. There are multiple requests for assistance online from PowerPoint users for whom this process just simply doesn’t work. The process seems simple:

Step 1: Copy the embed code from the video you wish to include. Note you must choose the ‘old embed code’ option.
embedding YouTube: finding the embed code
Step 2: Paste into PowerPoint in the appropriate field under Insert Video from Website.

paste into powerpoint

This process has never worked successfully for us, on a range of different computers. The video appears as a black box that will not play, or there is an error which requires Adobe Flash to be updated (even when the latest version is installed).
Fortunately, there are two alternatives:

a) Hyperlink to the video

b) Use a third party plug-in such as AuthorStream

Hyperlinking to the video means you temporarily leave the presentation, and go to where the video is situated to view. This can be disruptive during a presentation, however it does mean you can link to any video on any website (YouTube, Vimeo, TeacherTube etc). You can also link to a video edited on SafeShare TV, so that all of the annoying ads are removed. A tutorial on how to hyperlink to Safeshare TV can be downloaded here.

A third party plug-in such as AuthorStream allows you to embed YouTube or Vimeo videos directly into the slideshow so that they can be seamlessly displayed as part of the presentation.

Download Authorstream and follow the directions to install. Once it is installed, in PowerPoint a new tab will appear on the ribbon at the top of the screen.

Embedding the video is simply a matter of pasting the video hyperlink (not the embed code) into the window, as below.

embedding video using AuthorStream

Please note that embedded videos require an internet connection to operate.

Embedding video from clipart is quite straight forward, however the limited range of videos available from clipart means this option is rarely chosen.        The videos available are generally classified as animations, and add little to formal presentations.

If you have many videos to embed, it may be easier to choose Prezi as your presentation tool. To embed video into Prezi, simply paste the link where you want the video to appear, and as long as you have an internet connection, the process is complete.

  • Fonts are important

Choice of font is essential if you wish to have readable slides. If at all possible, choose no more than two fonts; a headline font and a text font. Make use of bold and italic options if you need further differentiation.

Nancy Duarte explains font choice very well in her book, Slideology. Essentially, there are two types of fonts; serif and sans serif.
Serifs are the small strokes at the end of letters that aid readability – you can see them

example of serif font

Serif fonts are good for long chunks of text. San Serif fonts don’t have the serifs, and are

sans serif font example

Once you have selected the font, don’t make the mistake of keeping it too small. Even though it may be readable on the computer screen, once projected this may change. As a general rule, stick to 24pt and above, larger if you are presenting in a large room and some audience members may be seated far from the screen.

Choice of font does not have to be limited to those available in the application. There are several websites where you can download free fonts for maximum impact. Two excellent sites are

DaFont logofont squirrel logo

(click on the logos to go to the sites).

One thing to note if you are using downloaded fonts – they will only work on the computer where the fonts are installed. This is vital to know, as many presentations are created on one computer and transferred for presentation onto a different computer. If you know the presentation is going to be moved, it is best to stick to one of the pre-installed fonts, or save the presentation in PDF format, which will prevent the fonts from changing no matter what computer is being used.

Avoid the overuse of bullet points!

Slide19

Want to know more?

These two posts on creating presentations that work have drawn on the work of several experts in this area; Nancy Duarte, Garr Reynolds and Seth Godin. A full bibliography of references used is below for further reading and information.

5 Ways to Make PowerPoint Sing! (And Dance!). (n.d.). Duarte Blog. Retrieved April 12, 2013, from http://blog.duarte.com/2010/01/5-ways-to-make-powerpoint-sing-and-dance/

Department of Human Services, Victoria. (n.d.). Colour blindness. Better Health Channel. Retrieved April 12, 2013, from http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Colour_blindness

Duarte, N. (2008). slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations (1st ed.). O’Reilly Media.

Godin, S. (2001, January 10). Really Bad PowerPoint: (and how to avoid it): Seth Godin: Amazon.com: Books. Do You Zoom Inc.

Hooker, D. (2012, March 25). Get Started with Prezi. Prezi Support. Retrieved April 12, 2013, from https://prezi.zendesk.com/entries/23448918-Get-Started-with-Prezi

Lessons from TED: 5 Simple Tweaks. (n.d.). Duarte Blog. Retrieved April 12, 2013, from http://blog.duarte.com/2009/02/lessons-from-ted-5-simple-tweaks/

Reynolds, G. (2011). Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery (2nd Edition) (2nd ed.). New Riders.