Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Week 8 - Principles of Presentations, 11/11

As in Week 4, our latest course session consisted of participant presentations of custom digital artifacts. Rather than summarize innovative media or projects, our collective mission was to present unique solutions to the education needs of the most vulnerable, underprivileged, or marginalized members of society. Topics included comparative cultural timelines, culturally situated writing projects, language development through comic strips, school creation in rural India, video solutions in biology education, preservation of native languages, de-marginalization of senior citizens and foster children, pedagogical tools to address dyslexia, promotion of multicultural understanding via film, increasing music awareness in urban youth, empowering the homeless, combating ADD, bullying prevention, addressing childhood depression, healthcare resources for the elderly, and culturally appropriate disease prevention.

Following the presentations in Week 4, I utilized this space to evaluate the effectiveness of various media formats for web-based teaching technologies. In this iteration, I wish to investigate the particular concerns of presentations and the prerequisites for their success. Not surprisingly, an effective model in this endeavor is ABCD (described here). For example, an analysis of ABCD in preparation for the presentations of last week may have yielded the following:
  • The Audience consists of the EDUC 391 course cohort and instructor. Members are sympathetic to the cause of addressing the needs of marginalized/vulnerable/underprivileged populations, and express a sincere interest in developing novel technological solutions to these needs.
  • The desired Behavior is an understanding of the education need, empathy for the target population, basic comprehension of the proposed solution, and assurance that design and cultural principles have been incorporated into artifact creation
  • The Conditions consist of an intimate classroom with technological support for a visual projection of a computer-based presentation. The presentation will be given in sequence with 16 others, restricted by a temporal limit of 5-7 minutes.
  • The Degree to which behaviors should be achieved is a sufficient understanding and interest to promote at least one informed followup (as opposed to clarification) questions from all audience members (assuming an absence of temporal constraints)
Although these considerations appeared to be generally made by members of the cohort, the distinctive nature of each presentation reflected divergent beliefs in how best to achieve them. The greatest conflict lay between the conditional temporal limitations, and the desire to achieve the basic behavioral outcomes of comprehension, empathy, and assurance of rigor. For example, My approach favored a visual assurance of adherence to design principles, despite the fact that the content could not be adequately covered within the temporal constraints. In contrast, Paul Franz opted for an emotive visual presentation that attempted to inherently reflect a consideration of design and cultural principles. Although an assessment of the relative effectiveness of these two presentations is difficult, given that temporal constraints curbed the potential for questions, my observation is that the latter prompted a greater degree of engagement among the audience.

This exercise is helpful in preparing for the rapidly approaching final project exposition. Although the behavioral objectives for this event will be similar to those of the class presentation, the environmental aspects will differ greatly. To wit, the format will be that of a conference rather than a presentation, the audience will include interested members of the population at large, including socially active members of the entrepreneurial, educational, and corporate communities, and the temporal constraints of presentation time (at least with respect to engaging observers) will be on the scale of seconds. Consequently, the success of my exposition presentation hinges on the creation of an evocative display that conceptually and emotively conveys the problem and the unique solution in a way that will promote queries and deeper conversations with the audience members.

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