Slides that Rock!

SlideShare: where we can learn from others

Concert crowdI’ve just read an interesting article from a SlideShare subscription alert. It was interesting on a number of levels. The article ‘Slides that Rock’ describes 5 ways SlideShare has helped them ‘rock':

1. providing a platform where they can learn
2. building a better network
3. enabling a global presence
4. providing a marketing platform
5. adding credibility

I loved viewing their accompanying SlideShare presentation too which has some excellent learning points many of us can take away. It does have a SlideShare promotional feel to it and is considering SlideShare more from a marketing tool point of view but, nontheless, all their points are valid and I started to relate it back to eLearning (as is my tendency) and learning in general.

Presentations are a very passive way of sending a message but can play an important part in workplace learning or as part of a formal blended/eLearning solution. Reading copious amounts of text can have a detrimental effect on our levels of engagement and often visuals play a vital role in our comprehension of the material as well as motivating us to ‘stick with it’. “A picture paints a thousand words” as the saying goes is useful to bear in mind. We can learn to change that by taking ideas from these types of presentations such as ‘Slides that rock’.

Of course, we don’t have to stop at changing how our presentations look. We can apply the same principles to our eLearning tutorial slides too not to mention our classroom slides. And just think of the difference you can make to your conference presentations!

When people on my eLearning design workshops fear they haven’t the creative skills to produce dynamic and appealing slides I point them to two of the names mentioned in this article, Nancy Duarte (her Slideology book) and Garr Reynolds (particularly his Presentation Zen Design book).

Two further publication I always recommend are (i) ‘The non-designer’s design book‘ by Robin Williams (covers in layman’s terms the basic principles of graphic design – contrast, repitition, alignment and proximity) and (ii) ‘Visual Language for Designers‘ by Connie Malamed. I’m looking forward to checking out the work of David Crandall and Jesse Desjarnins to whom the article refers.

We could also do well to remember as learning designers though is that we too are marketeers. When we produce a piece of learning, whether it’s designed to be a formal course or ad-hoc, just in time chunks to help with workplace learning, we are producing a product to ‘sell’. The visual design ideas we see here could also be transferred to our marketing material such as posters and leaflets.

On a final note…. the main points that stuck with me from this article however were that SlideShare gave them a platform from where they could learn and it allowed them to build a better network.

We learn from sharing and collaborating with others. We just sometimes need a little help in knowing where to look which is where the role of trainers becoming curators and consultants comes in.

Twitter-lingo

Did you know…

There have been 659,042 Tweets in the Haitian Creole language of  Kreyol Ayisyen within a user group of 7,468 and Cymraeg (Welsh) is the third most popular language Tweeted with 261,083 Tweets altogether between 2,729.

These statistics have been gathered by Indigenous Tweets as reported by the BBC last week.  According to the article, Indegenous Tweets is “about encouraging minority language speakers to discover each other online”.

This got me thinking about how Twitter can be used to help people learn a language.  I’ve always been told that the only real way to learn how to speak a new language is to use it – regularly.  However, speaking a new language may not necessarily help you get to grips with writing it.

What’s a better place to interact with others in a particular language to try out your skill and improve them.

Here are some ideas I’ve had:

  • Set a ‘conversation’ activity in class to practise written language skills
  • Set an icebreaker task before the course asking students to research how to say “Hello, my name is, what’s your name?”
  • As the skills increase hold regular live Tweet meets where the tutor and group will only converse in that language.
  • Encourage students to join a wider community where they hold conversations with others
  • Create a blog to post regular conversation topics giving details of the time and duration of Tweet-meets
  • Upload a copy of each conversation to the blog to discuss further

Because Twitter is just another tool by which we can hold conversations, it’s important we think beyond the prejudice and barriers and start thinking creatively on how we can harness it for learning.  Of course, we don’t want to use these tools ‘just because’ but perhaps we need to start thinking more about ‘what can be’.

Classroom trainers have been very creative in the past about how to include different tools and activities to aid the learning process.  Just think about how we introduced video and DVDs to the classroom course.  The set up little group to collaborate using flip-charts, then PowerPoint.  We’ve introduced games and adapted them to encourage problem solving. The only difference now is we no longer have to be bound by walls and have a much richer collection of tools.

Are you using a hammer to crack a nut?

 

Or do you really need the right tool for the job?

Hammer cracking nuts

As some of you may have guessed, I’m a really big fan of social media.  I think it’s the best thing invented since sliced bread.  Now for the uninitiated, when I mention social media and in pa

rticular Twitter, the initial reaction is either  ‘oh no here we go again’ or ‘I can’t see the point in hearing what everyone had for breakfast’.  But social media is so versatile.  It’s just another conversation tool – just like the telephone.

What’s the betting that when telephones started to be installed in more homes, people just rang each other up to find out what they had done that day.  It’s a novelty thing. It’s a ” We just gotta try it out but I can’t think of anything profound so I’ll just say the first thing that comes into my head” sort of thing.  In fact, my mum still does that.  I’m not going to tell you my age but I think you’ll guess I’m not a kid any more but I still have to telephone ‘home’ every night when I travel anywhere.  There’s usually no new amazing news to hear so I just get “have you had your tea?  What did you have?”.

But of course we also use the telephone for some of the most important of calls as well as keeping in touch with our loved ones.  The same goes for e-mail.  I remember when e-mail was first introduced where I worked.  There were e-mails being sent all over the building just saying saying “hello, how was your weekend” even when we were just in the next office (or even in the same office).  It was a novelty.  Then came the policies on how to use e-mail responsibly, how to communicate correctly and all was good with the world.

What I’m seeing now though is e-mail being misused in as much as it is becoming a conversation tool.  Yes, I know it IS a conversation tool in a way but we’re seeing it being used for chit-chat again even if that chit-chat is work related.  Yet there are many more appropriate tools we can use for this type of conversation within a work environment:

Skype for example.  Here people can have real time business conversations either on a one to one basis or group.

If it’s more about collaborating on a project, what about using Google Docs and Google Buzz.

If we need to share research, discuss ideas, view and review little videos we’re planning, what about creating a Facebook Group for your team.

We are so blessed nowadays with a variety of different tools that do different things can we really look back at our current practices and say we are working efficiently?  Of course, we need time for a bit of research but sometimes, we just have to give it a go.

And that’s just what I’m just about to do now.  I’m going to create a team Facebook Group for collaborative working projects and see how it goes.  How about you?