Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Observation 1: Reducing the Number of Applications

Two years ago I learned the phrase blank page software. It has stuck with me. What I remember from that fantastic presentation was is was the first time I had seen someone use something other than PowerPoint or a web browser to make a presentation. The majority of his presentation was in a blank page software, Adobe Flash. As the story of his presentation about creativity built, he added onto the Flash animation he was making. He ended up with an animation that went with the presentation. The animation illustrated the points in his speech.

As I talked about before, switching applications can be a real drag on a presentation. Since his presentation was about blank page software and was going to demonstrate Flash, he used it for his presentation. I am not sure if this was a conscience technique or not. It was effective an removed much of the issues that can crop up when switching applications.

Lets look at a lesson that may have been better in one application than the two I used. the lesson was an introduction to the physics concept of work. I put up a picture of a block in Skitch (a drawing program) with room for me to write on the side. I had several pictures ready to go and I asked students to do a work calculation on each situation. Wait time is important, so what I do to make sure that I give enough wait time is I make the calculation myself and tipple the time and give that to the students. To keep me honest on time I have several play lists in my iTunes that are named for the number of minutes of songs in the list. The last song is always classical music, so the students know when their time is almost up. So all hour I was switching between Skitch and iTunes.

An alternate method would be to place the objects and the music in a Keynote, then play it in PowerPoint, which has drawing tools that I can use with my wireless tablet. I made that same presentation this way and reduced my programs down to one from three. However, it was not nearly as fun or flexible. When students had other questions I had to move out of the presentation to surf and find examples. Moving out of presentations is never easy, especially from a remote location. I also at one point in the hour had to go to the browser for attendance as well. Turns out efficient switching is a much better solution for me than make one seemless presentation. May be I am not a planner.

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