AUC Create World Conference 2008

There’s the whiff of conferences in the air right now. Monday starts the 3rd annual AUC (Apple University Consortium) Create World Conference at Griffith University in Brisbane. I’ll be working with a team of podcasters headed by Alan Carrington from the University of Adelaide. We will be gathering comment not just from presenters and performers, but from everyone there. We’ll edit and produce episodes daily and beam them out, so stay tuned for contact details.  If you’re interested in some up to date, cool reporting from Create World and keen to contribute, your comments would of course, be most welcome.

Create World is a conference designed to bring together higher ed creative types … performers, composers, film-makers, games designers, visual artists and musicians … all using (mostly) Apple digital technology. I’m tipping there will be a slew of iPhones, MacBook Pros and Airs on display in the auditoriums this year; last year the few iPhones seen were largely in stealth mode … the iPhone hadn’t officially arrived in Oz.

One of the delights of academe is getting to create great titles and sub-titles for papers and conferences. This one is no exception: The Art of Serious Play; the Serious Art of Play – Curiosity, Creativity, Craft and Connectedness in the Digital Age. Phew! Anyhow, the week’s programme of workshops, keynotes, performances, and presentations look to be stimulating and FUN. You can check them out on the conference webpage.

I’ll be gathering the rest of the news that’s fit to print, and most probably sending out updates on Twitter @Dramagirl. How could I not; Twitter is the cool new kid on the block at conferences. And to think a year ago at this same conference I went public in saying I didn’t see much value in it. We hadn’t even invented hashtags at that time. Ah well.

You can find the Create World podcast blog here. All sessions should be uploaded by December 20. Do drop by, listen to the follow-up commentary from presenter and audience and leave a text or voice comment.

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A (minor) rant on why good presentation design works …

Once again I’m reminded of the impact of good design. This morning I received an e-letter from SlideShare pointing me to the  World’s Best Presentation Contest winners.

Judged by some big-hitters in the web-design stakes (Garr Reynolds, Guy Kawasaki, Nancy Duarte, Bert Decker) here is the overall winner.

THIRST

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: design crisis)

Why did it win? Here is the judges’ feedback, but as far as I am concerned, Thirst is a winner as a presentation because

  • It’s not a slideument … i.e., a document pretending to be a slide show;
  • It’s short;
  • It’s visually appealing, with images that support and extend the message;
  • It’s memorable. If you’ve flicked through it even once, there is going to be an image that has told you a story that you’ll remember.

As the Heath brothers might say, it’s a sticky presentation that you’ll recall.

Oh how I wish more presenters would take a leaf from this book. I sat through a slideument last week … with quietly gnashing teeth!

Congratulations Jeff Brenman. Jeff is the talented young designer behind that other fantastically popular and sticky slide presentation Shift Happens.

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Day 18 and some comment forensics

The Wisdom of Crowds

Image: thanks to Stephen Downes

Which of my posts have attracted the most comments, and which have kicked off the best conversations? I thought it a worthwhile exercise to track back over all of my posts to get a feel for this, not just those during the current 31 Day Comment Challenge. Whew!

OK … well I have to ‘fess up that I received very few comments at all during the first life of my blog. This blog Spinning a Learning Web started as something else altogether, and got a makeover during 2007 into its current focus on adventurous e-learning, and with a big nod to good design and Mac things.

The Wisdom of Crowds

Image: thanks to Stephen Downes

Which of my posts have attracted the most comments, and which have kicked off the best conversations? I thought it a worthwhile exercise to track back over all of my posts to get a feel for this, not just those during the current 31 Day Comment Challenge. Whew!

OK … well I have to ‘fess up that I received very few comments at all during the first life of my blog. This blog Spinning a Learning Web started as something else altogether, and got a makeover during 2007 into its current focus on adventurous e-learning, and with a big nod to good design and Mac things. Continue reading “Day 18 and some comment forensics”

Hooray for Zen


Creative Commons License photo credit: miheco

I’ve been intrigued for many years by the philosophy of Zen and its impact upon the aesthetics of traditional Japanese art … particularly Noh theatre, a topic I teach in a history course. I also love good design. So, I’ve been a fan of Garr Reynolds’ blog Presentation Zen for some time. Reynolds’ writing and practice on presentation design and performance is simply excellent.

This weekend my reading companion was his recently published book of the same name (New Riders: Peachpit). I must say it is a delight; form and function meet superbly as you might expect from this Zen master of contemporary design. Reynolds refreshes Zen’s ancient principles of minimalism, restraint, elegance, engagement with material and audience in an entirely accessible and practical way. The winner is the contemporary professional presenter. Continue reading “Hooray for Zen”

Back to school isn’t what it used to be: another seasonal adventure

Pencil Shavings

When I was a kid, and it rolled around to back to school time, I used to love stocking up on stationery and getting my new textbooks. The trip to the newsagent (stationery supplier) in January was like Christmas all over again. I remember sniffing the new pages … exercise books provided an entirely different olfactory experience than did text books. I’d marvel over the contents … would all of this unfamiliar knowledge be all mine before the year was up? Then it came to the writing implement of choice for this new academic year … the colour of ink and the heft in the hand had to be right. I remember when those new fangled yellow Biro pens came in, but I loved the smell of Quink ink and the feel of a fountain-pen nib on paper, and still do. A whiff of Clag paste still jolts me back to days of grade school innocence. When I got to university, I experienced the same thrill browsing the shelves in the bookstore. By then it was agonising over the right folder or ‘student portfolio’ to capture lecture notes and to store class handouts in. Now I am all grown up, I still enjoy trawling the shelves at the local office supplies warehouse. But my, how they have grown too; is there no limit to the number and kind of pens these days? I walked the aisles of my local Officeworks a couple of days ago, checking out the latest in the office supplies department. There is more choice than ever, but what you only get a hint of … the tip of the iceberg as it were … is the relentless incursion of the digital world into the quiet backwaters of prepping for a class.

Pencil Shavings

When I was a kid, and it rolled around to back to school time, I used to love stocking up on stationery and getting my new textbooks. The trip to the newsagent (stationery supplier) in January was like Christmas all over again. I remember sniffing the new pages … exercise books provided an entirely different olfactory experience than did text books. I’d marvel over the contents … would all of this unfamiliar knowledge be all mine before the year was up? Then it came to the writing implement of choice for this new academic year … the colour of ink and the heft in the hand had to be right. I remember when those new fangled yellow Biro pens came in, but I loved the smell of Quink ink and the feel of a fountain-pen nib on paper, and still do. A whiff of Clag paste still jolts me back to days of grade school innocence. When I got to university, I experienced the same thrill browsing the shelves in the bookstore. By then it was agonising over the right folder or ‘student portfolio’ to capture lecture notes and to store class handouts in. Now I am all grown up, I still enjoy trawling the shelves at the local office supplies warehouse. But my, how they have grown too; is there no limit to the number and kind of pens these days? I walked the aisles of my local Officeworks a couple of days ago, checking out the latest in the office supplies department. There is more choice than ever, but what you only get a hint of … the tip of the iceberg as it were … is the relentless incursion of the digital world into the quiet backwaters of the task known as prepping for class. Continue reading “Back to school isn’t what it used to be: another seasonal adventure”

The podcast voice: formal, conversational, what?

Modified Podcast Logo with My Headphones Photo...
Image by Colleen AF Venable via Flickr

Depending on the content and the form of your podcast, you’ll want to think about the style of your delivery. I most often use podcasts to provide course material to students, and more often than not the audio track will be accompanied by slides to support what I am saying … but not always. By the way, I am trying to drop the term lecture because of the connotations of that word … an often large group of people in a lecture hall being talked at by someone for up to an hour. This seems alien to the whole format of podcasting which is (pardon the term) up close and personal via headphones or on a computer screen. I like to play the mic not the lecture hall, and speak one on one with my smart, curious listener who is sitting just the other side of the microphone.

Keep your delivery relaxed, and don’t sound as though you are reading; you can hear it in the voice. Try referring to your listeners from time to time in the way you present the material; you’re speaking to them not at them. There’s a big difference; one’s inclusive, the other exclusive. Opinions and appropriate off the cuff comment are fine too.

Rather than as lectures, I think of my podcasts as audio programs based around a topic; this keeps me vocally and stylistically ‘on.’ Don’t get me wrong … content is vital when delivering course materials, and there’s no substitute for a well-scripted program … see, I didn’t say well-written lecture … but it doesn’t have to be pitched formally. That almost always disengages the listener.  I believe a quality lecture or podcast ought to engage us with the person doing the delivery. A good podcaster will be connected to the material to the point where you can hear it in the voice. If you’re interested, intrigued or passionate about the material, then your listeners are more likely to listen up.

Whilst the odd “um and ah” here and there is OK, it’s best to keep clear of any rambling. Most of us use it and accept it in casual conversation, but it’s somehow not acceptable where focus and keeping to the point are critical and where a lot of content is being delivered as in course learning materials. It’s a style thing. I learned pretty quickly that it was smart to script fully what I wanted to say, and to build in any repeats at key points. I found then that I could concentrate on the how of the delivery and not the what.