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Monday, July 1, 2013

Best of 2013 So Far... Three Books & Videos About Creating Better Presentations

We're half-way through 2013. Like I've done in years past, this week I'll be featuring some of the best new tech tools of 2013 as well as some of the most popular posts of the year.

A lot of times when we think about putting together presentations we think about the slides first. But a good presentation starts with a good story and starts before we create our first slides. Over the years I've watched lots of videos and read even more articles about presentation and story design. Watch a Guy Kawasaki presentation if you want to see some of the best presentation methods in action, I'm partial to this one about his book Enchantment. Over the years three books have influenced much of what goes into my presentations, here they are in reverse chronological order.

Last fall Lee Lefever, the founder of Common Craft, published The Art of Explanation. I recorded a short interview with Lee and you can watch it below. One of my big take-aways from the book was the idea of avoiding "the curse of knowledge." The curse of knowledge is basically knowing so much about a topic that you forget that what you take for granted is not as easily understood by non-experts. Explaining things is something that we do every day in our classrooms and I know that I'm guilty of sometimes suffering from the curse of knowledge.


Dan Roam's Unfolding the Napkin is the workbook companion to his Back of the Napkin series of books. Even if you don't read his other books, the workbook is still very useful as it will walk you through the process of thinking about stories and telling those stories in a clear manner. The concept is that if you can break a big concept into small sketches, you can explain it. You can get a sense of what Unfolding the Napkin is about by watching the ten minute video below.


When the time comes to craft your slides and practice your presentation, Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds is the place to turn to for advice. Get a sample of what Presentation Zen is about by watching the nine minute video below.

Best of 2013 So Far...Create Interactive Videos on WireWax

We're half-way through 2013. Like I've done in years past, this week I'll be featuring some of the best new tech tools of 2013 as well as some of the most popular posts of the year.

wireWax is a service that takes the concept of YouTube annotations and makes it much better. On wireWax you can build interactive tags into your videos. Each tag that you add to your video have another video from YouTube or Vimeo or an image from Facebook, Flickr, or Instagram. A tag can also include an audio track from SoundCloud or a reference article from Qwiki.

What makes using wireWax different from using the YouTube annotations tool is that clicking on your tags (what YouTube calls annotations) does not send you outside of the video you're currently watching. This means that you can watch a video within a video or view a picture or listen to a different audio track within the original video. When you click a tag in the original video the video pauses and the tagged item is displayed.

wireWax allows you to add tags to any YouTube video that is publicly viewable and has not had embedding disabled. I tried wireWax with this five minute video. It took a while (15-20 minutes) for the video to process for tagging, but once it was processed it was easy to create a tag. To create my tag I just advanced the video to the spot I wanted to tag, drew a box around the person I was tagging, then selected the wireWax YouTube app to put a video within the original video. Check it out below by advancing to about the 1.5 minute mark.


Applications for Education
wireWax could be a great tool for adding new layers of information to educational videos. If you're creating videos for your students or your students are creating videos to share with others consider tagging key points at which viewers might have questions. At those points insert tags that reveal clarifying information in the form of a video, an image, or an audio recording.  

Best of 2013 So Far...Create Video Quizzes With Blubbr

We're half-way through 2013. Like I've done in years past, this week I'll be featuring some of the best new tech tools of 2013 as well as some of the most popular posts of the year. 

Blubbr is a neat quiz creation service that you can use to create video-based quizzes. Using Blubbr you can create interactive quizzes that are based on YouTube clips. Your quizzes can be about anything of your choosing. The structure of the quizzes has a viewer watch a short clip then answer a multiple choice question about the clip. Viewers know right away if they chose the correct answer or not.

To create a quiz on Blubbr start by entering a topic for your quiz. After entering your topic enter a search for a video about that topic. Blubbr will generate a list of videos that you can select from to use in your quiz. When you find a video that works for you, trim the clip to a length that you like then write out your question and answer choices. Repeat the process for as many video clips as you like. Click here to try a short Blubbr quiz about the human heart. 

Applications for Education
I think of Blubbr as being like TEDEd but with shorter video clips. In that regard, creating a quiz on Blubbr could be a good way to develop review materials for your students. Students can take quizzes on Blubbr without signing into the service. Unfortunately, to create a new quiz you do have to use your Twitter or Facebook credentials. Hopefully, that will change in the future.

Best of 2013 So Far... Wideo

We're half-way through 2013. Like I've done in years past, this week I'll be featuring some of the best new tech tools of 2013 as well as some of the most popular posts of the year.

Wideo is a service that allows anyone to create animated videos and Common Craft-style videos online. You can create an animated video on Wideo by dragging and dropping elements into place in the Wideo editor then setting the sequence of animations. Each element can be re-used as many times as you like and the timing of the animation of each image can individually adjusted. Wideo's stock elements include text, cartoons, and drawings. You can also upload your own images to use in your videos. You can add sound tracks and voice-overs to your videos after arranging all of the visuals in your video.


WIDEOO REEL ENG NEW LOGO from Agustin Esperon on Vimeo.


Applications for Education 
By using Wideo's voice-over tool you could have your students creating explanatory videos in the Common Craft style. The art of Common Craft videos is the way in which confusing topics are boiled down to a concise explanation. If your students can do the same with a topic in your class, they can prove that they know the material. 

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