Friday, June 25, 2010

Digital Storytelling - Week Five

I have a new found appreciation for film makers and all the upfront work that goes into making a movie. The biggest takeaway for me is to storyboard everything in advance - reflect for a few days - and then modify the storyboard before going into production. Last week in DigiTales we read about creating a Digital Storytelling toolkit and this week we read reviews on what to look for when selecting the various hardware and software components. Understanding ones' level of technical proficiency and the tools available drive what one can actually produce. I had to go back to my Pecha Kucha storyboard and change the flow due to my personal technological constraints.

I was just thinking that I needed more experience putting together rubrics. Our class has us creating a Multimedia Rubric that could be used by students in a project. A rubric serves not only as a way to evaluate student performance but also helps the students organize what they should be doing. So often in the MEIT program I have referred back to the assignment rubric and this has helped me know what I need to do and where I should focus my effort.

At the UW-Hoofer's Sailing Club we are in the process of creating short videos that will be posted on YouTube for access by sailing students. I decided that my multimedia rubric would cover this latest club endeavor and include elements from the Digital Storytelling course: presentation design and delivery a la Presentation Zen, storyboarding and working within hardware/software constraints. In effect, it will serve as a project template providing direction to guide each group in their production and help them tell a great story in the process.

I am wrapping-up my Pecha Kucha which is about an introduction to sailing covering the basic points of sail, leaving the pier and landing. I've gone through this so many times in a face-to-face class that I found myself recreating that environment. At the eleventh hour I wanted to change it into something that would be more of a story about going sailing rather than a 'how-to sail' approach. I have kicked it into high gear taking more photographs and redesigning slides and voiceovers.

Our study group work met earlier this week and evaluated SlideSix and authorStream. I was a bit down on SlideSix but after our group meeting I wondered if I could use it for my finished Pecha Kucha. I tried using the audio for narration and it seemed klutzy - but I kept at it and I think it might work. My fallback is VoiceThread, but I think I will push SlideSix just to see if I can learn a new online tool for sharing presentations with recorded audio.

Here is my Intro to Sailing Pecha Kucha

Friday, June 18, 2010

Digital Storytelling - Week Four

Week four of Digital Storytelling has been an exciting one. I took my 6 best pictures from my Photo Blog site (Posterous) and used a new program called Prezi to create a very different kind of presentation. Prezi gives you an infinite workspace for brainstorming ideas and images that can be turned into a presentation. The presentation is not a linear Slideshow but lets you create paths between ideas and images. Add some zoom effects and one has a dynamic presentation that will run itself with the autoplay option. I think Prezi has great potential for team collaboration on just about anything. If you haven't seen Prezi then picture Inspiration only recorded with incredible transitions.

Click the Autoplay option in the lower right corner to let Prezi run with the transitions.

This week I concluded the final chapters of Garr Reynolds' Presentation Zen. I recommend this book for anyone that is about to create a presentation. The emphasis is not only on the design of effective slides but also on the delivery. Reynolds provides great insight and examples of powerful presentations and the book has transformed how I think and even feel about making a presentation. Read Presentation Zen and come-out from behind the lectern and connect with your audience!

Another class reading is from Bernajean Porter's DigiTales which provides a nuts and bolts approach to putting together a digital story. The latest chapter delves into creating a digital storytelling toolkit for either Mac or Windows users and the categories of hardware and software one will need. I have 'Mac Envy' after seeing all of the video and audio software that comes with the Apple computers. But, I do have Adobe Premiere Pro and hopefully one day I will become proficient enough with it to create professional AV presentations.

Finally, I am working on creating my first Pecha Kucha using presentation ideas from last week. I am working through the second draft of my storyboard and will soon commit to a presentation that delivers 20 slides with only 20 seconds per slide. Rather than planning on speed talking or jamming each slide with a jillion bits of information - I am going to simplify to amplify my main points and ideas. I will be applying what I learned from the Presentation Zen readings in terms of design and delivery.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Digital Story Telling: Week Three

Week Three of Digital Storytelling has been stretched-out over a 3 week break and provided a chance for me to reflect upon past presentations. Am I designing presentations with my audience in mind? How truly effective were they? I discovered that the technological features of my slideware need to be reigned-in so that my focus is on getting my message across to my audience as clearly as possible. It's OK, actually better, if slides are less busy and free of noise. By eliminating bullet points, background images and tiny product logos on every slide I amplify my message through simplification.

I must resist the urge to fill-in the empty spaces with 'stuff' and let a tract of empty background contrast a single image and/or text. Instead, I need to spend more time doing offline thinking about my main ideas and presentation design a particular audience. The goal is not to have slideware that I talk about, rather I am presenting ideas and the slideware provides a reinforcing backdrop which promote acquisition of ideas in the audience's mind.

I wrapped-up my 28 day Photo Blog on my Posterous site. I really enjoyed posting daily photos and looking at what my cohorts were doing as well. I linked my daily photos to my Facebook page and had wonderful feedback from my FB friends. I was amazed at the pictures my cohorts came-up with and in turn inspired me to see things differently. But Posterous was not the end of for pictures as I used them to create a 30 second Animoto video. I uploaded photos and a video clip which were combined with a lively jazz soundtrack to create this video about spring storms in Wisconsin. I revised it a few times until it felt just right. Take a look and leave a comment about it if you like!

Create your own video slideshow at

Digital Storytelling is really storytelling with audio and video support. To create a really good digital story or presentation one needs to plan first and then execute the plan. A common theme between DigiTales and Presentation Zen is thinking through what you want to tell or say and then designing the elements which support and further the message for an audience. Sounds simple? It isn't! We have so much technology at our fingertips in terms of video editing and slideware software that it can be too tempting to just jump right-in and start being creative. I do this all the time and, if I'm lucky, I pull myself back before I am bogged down in bullet points, font colors and jamming text into a slide.

On that last point, I am in the process of revamping an older presentation I made on ADDIE to my former coworkers at Pharmacy OneSource. My challenge is to embrace and apply the design principles found in chapter 6 of Presentation Zen and create a brand new presentation with a handout. Can I resist the urge to clutter my screen? This is a tough assignment for me as I am trying to un-do 20 years' worth of behavior. I have been thinking about this for 2.5 weeks now and it is hard - but worth doing if I am to create truly effective presentations in the future. One assignment will not fix me, it is going to take practice and reflection to become better.

Finally, I am looking forward to the challenge of using the Pecha Kucha approach to presentations. What is the challenge? Well you have to use no more than 20 slides and have only 20 seconds on each slide. I don't think I can get away with drinking 6 shots of espresso and talking like a sports broadcaster calling a Funny Car race. "Sunday! Sunday! Nitrous-powered Funny Cars at US 30 Drag strip. Be There! Be There!". Ahem, sorry about that. Couldn't resist. Well, Pecha Kucha will require me to distill and focus my presentation into key elements that can still interest my audience.

If you've read this far in the blog then you know I am wordy. I admire those that can express their ideas in short, tailored measures. Presentation Zen doesn't just apply to presentations - it should be considered when writing as well.