Date Archives June 2008

LOEX of the West Presentation Feedback

Since giving my presentation on Portal and student learning Friday, I've been reflecting on how the presentation went. I am guardedly pleased. I think my concept was good and my content were good and these are probably the most important outcomes for me. However, I did realize that if I'm going to give a presentation that highlights the importance of assessment of instruction design, it should follow that I model that behavior and write a little bit about the assessment data I received from my wonderful audience at LOEX of the West.

Most of the feedback I received was highly positive. This, of course, feels very nice. However, I think most of us know that positive feedback isn't terribly valuable when it comes to modifying our practice. I want to thank my generous audience for the nice things they wrote to me, they are appreciate very much, but I also want to focus on the suggestions and negative feedback. I also want to thank the folks who took the time to suggest how I can improve my presentation skills. This feedback is valuable and you did not need to take the time to let me know, so thanks for that!

The comment I've spent the most time thinking about had some gratifying things to say about my content, but complained that I talked for the entire 75 minute session. This was disappointing for an instruction conference.

This point is well taken. I spent much less effort and preparation on how I presented that I did on what I presented and the commenter was absolutely correct that this is poor instruction design for most of our classrooms. I'm a little torn on this one and there are things I could write to justify my choices, but I don't think being defensive is going to help me here. I focused waaay more on my content than on my presentation and my priorities showed. At very least I should have been more creative w/ my presentation. I'll work on it.

Several commenters gave feedback on my slide design. Yes, they were text heavy and did not outline enough. Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa. Choosing to use quotes instead of recorded interviews helped this, but basically I suck at reducing complex thoughts to bullets that don't clutter a 1024x768 screen. I'm a very texual boy and in my defence I'll just say that making complex points display simply without distorting them is a fairly high level activity. But I'll keep trying.

Another note on the slideware, I don't use PowerPoint. For this presentation I switched from S5, a public domain set of css definitions that allow web pages to display like slide to Zoho Show. I LOVE Zoho as an online office software suite. It is way better than Google Docs. I recently read that Zoho used the S5 standards for making their show product so I thought I would try it out. I didn't count on losing access to the code, and thus not being able to make changes when the wysiwyg interface wouldn't do what I wanted. In a perfect world I would have given myself enough time to switch to a tool I could manipulate better. On the other hand, I am very fond of a few Zoho Show features, including the ability to embed in web pages. Keep working Zoho team, it is a good product, but you aren't quite there yet. (

I'll keep working on my slide design as well. Time to revisit Tufte on PowerPoint, I think. I don't use slides in the classroom, usually I'll use a web page. Perhaps I should stop using slides at conferences and just go with what I'm confortable with.

Other comments were positive and made me feel gratified. I was especially pleased to be thanked for not taking the fun out of Portal. It IS fun and I decided just not to talk about any of those aspects since the best way to ruin a joke is to explain it. I'm really glad that choice payed off.

Anyway, thanks to everyone who came and to everyone who gave me feedback. I'm taking it seriously.

LOEX of the West

Here I am in glorious Las Vegas. Of course I'm living in a dorm and staying up late editing a paper with an eye to the deadline, so while I am experiencing deja vu, it sadly isn't of Dionysian revelry.

I'm giving my presentation on Portal and the analysis of video games with an eye to pedagogy and instructional design in a couple of hours. I'm excited and I think it has come together well.

My presentation materials are available here:

a sign of a great conference presentation

You can tell when you've attended a great conference presentation when someone in the audience admits that the talk has sparked an ontological crisis and caused him to question who he is.

I attended such a presentation today at LOEX of the West. Kate Groenmeyer and Anne Marie Dietering gave a talk tilted: Peer Review 2.0 about teaching evaluation skills and the processes of academic communication to undergraduate students with an eye to the collaborative communication tools that come with Web 2.0. It really spoke to the information geek in me and confirmed that I'm in the right profession because we get to think about some damned interesting topics and our job of teaching students to handle information is important, vital, and fun.

A LOT of great information is available from the presentation on Anne Marie's most excellent blog: So by all means run, don't walk, there to check it out. Kate is a contributor at, which is going into my feed reader as I type.

This conference has been a good one for content. Conferences tend to be full of meetings for me, so I don't typically have time or energy left to try and find the best sessions. Here, there is a surfeit of great content. Yesterday I attended Kaijsa Calkins' wonderful case study of a project at the University of Wyoming that embedded a librarian in a learning community of at-risk (conditionally admitted) first year students. I've been a bit struck by Professor X's bleak but enlightening and seemingly right-on-the-money article about the challenges of teaching students who are not prepared for the rigors of college work in The Atlantic, so this look into ways of intervening in the work of at-risk students was timely and appreciated. I also enjoyed a well organized presentation by Paul Waelchi & Sara Holladay. Paul and Sara talked about using fantasy sports as a hook to engage students athletes and other students into information literacy activities. I'm very much on board with attempts to highlight information literacy and critical thinking activities that take place in the non-academic lives of our students and using them to bridge the gap between new college students and the daunting culture of the academy. Sara and Paul had some good structures for bridging this gap and some excellent techniques for structuring lessons, engaging with faculty, and convincing administration and faculty that talking about leisure activities can lead to real learning.

It has been a great conference so far. I have high hopes for my presentation, but I have yet to give it so wish me luck!

Stay Tuned

As much as it may appear that this blog has been abandoned, rest assured that that is not the case. I'm feverishly writing for a couple of publication opportunities and have decided to focus on the writing I can apply towards tenure. No worries, however, I'll have some new material coming up in June. Until then, if you don't already subscribe, try these outlets:

James Paul Gee @ Gaming, Learning, and Libraries 2007