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.