Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.

I recently attended DigiCon18. I was left with a few thoughts on the nature of presentations. I discussed this before, as well as the re-imagination of such spaces. I find this topic important to continually come back to as much as a reminder about what I myself need to improve upon as anything else.

  • Slow Down: I was in some sessions where presenters would run through all their material. I feel this is something that I sometimes do. One strategy is to provide points where you can stop and reassess.
  • Incorporate Storytelling: One of the things that stood out from all the keynotes was the power of storytelling. I was left thinking that if you do not have a story to tell, you probably need to start making one up.
  • Involve Humour: On the flip side to storytelling, it is important to include humour, this opens presentations and workshops to the human side. One of the hard things about this is that humour is often situational and cannot always easily be contrived.
  • Don’t say what doesn’t need to be said: If you are not prepared or do not know everything, do not admit it. I recognise that everyone is human, but more is lost than gained in my opinion.
  • Structured Hands-On Time: There were too many sessions that involved arbitrary activities. If you are going to provide people time, provide them with purpose and structure. This is something that I have been guilty of not doing well in the paste.

With all this said, I think that it is people that make a conference. Maybe above all else we need to start there.

If you were one of those people at DigiCon18 and had a reflection, I would love to hear it.

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flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

GAFE Summit Session Description

For some Google Slides is just a dumbed down version of PowerPoint. However, the collaborative nature opens up so many different possibilities. This session will explore intricacies associated with Slides from sharing presentations, to changing themes, to importing media, to creating ebooks. It will be jam packed with practical samples and examples. Aaron hopes to spur on new ideas and start the conversation about why you should start using Google Slides more today.

Google Slides 101 from Aaron Davis


There are many ways of using Google Slides. It like to break it down into four sections:

  • Presentations. Just like PowerPoint, Slides provides an easy way to use the templates provides to present information. However, going a step further, using the shapes, animations and image manipulation, Slides allows you to create a Comic Strip. See this example from Eric Curts to make more sense.
  • Collaboration. What makes Google Slides stand apart from other platforms is the ability to collaborate. At a simple level, this involves develop ideas together. For example, Karly Moura uses it to introduce blogging with Google Slides. Going a step further, Slides provides the means to give feedback during the editing stage, as well as critique of ideas  and information. Jon Corippo uses this ability to collaborate to facilitate Iron Chef lessons where different student’s form different groups and take on different roles.
  • Interactions. Going beyond the basic presentation. Slides provides a means to create interactive presentations. For some this means games. See for example Eric Curts remake of Jeopordy. In addition to this, the ability to create links provides the means to create Choose Your Own Adventure stories. Animation.
  • Publishing. Another possibility that Google Slides makes possible is desktop publishing. Whether it be creating a newsletter, a mock-up for a website or an an ebook. What makes Slides different is the ability to embed these files on the web.


Have a go at completing one of the following activities:


A Beginner’s Guide to Google Slides in the Classroom – A thorough introduction by Kathleen Morris, including how to make a presentation and the various uses.

Google Slides Cheat Sheet – An introduction by Kasey Bell covering all the key features

Tips for Anyone Making the Switch to Google Slides – Some tips and tricks from Jayne Miller to help switch, including using shortcuts and templates

Using GAFE for Interactive Stories – A presentation from Sylvia Duckworth looking at creating interactive stories using a range of applications, including Docs, Slides and Youtube

Jeopardy Game 5-Topic Template – A template created by Eric Curts for creating your own game of Jeopardy

Way More Than a Slide Show: Creative Ways for Using Google Slides – A good introduction to Slides from Jesse Lubinsky, especially useful in regards to making interactive presentations

Slides Carnival – A collection of free templates for Google Slides

Iron Chef Style Lesson A lesson plan from Jon Corippo and Iron Ed-tech Chef a great example from Anthony Speranza and Riss Leung

Student Guide to Collaborative Google Slides – A guide for students from Alice Keeler to support students will collaborative assignments

Editing Images in Google Docs and Slides – A resource from Kasey Bell unpacking some of the intricacies associated with editing and manipulating images

Using Google Slides to Teach – A crowdsourced document collecting together a range of ideas for how to use Google Slides created by Alice Keeler

Google Slides as Newsletter Platform – A guide from Miguel Guhlin on using Google Slides to create a newsletter

Mawhera Taniwha: Google Slides and Google Drawings – A reflection from Allanah King on using slides and embedding this into a website

Create an eBook with Google Slides – The Gooru explains how to resize a Sheet to quickly create an eBook that can then be downloaded as a PDF

10 Google Slides Activities to Add Awesome to Classes – Another useful collection of ideas from Matt Miller

Creating Interactive Google Presentations and Google Slides for Student Created Storybooks – Guides to making different types of interactive presentations from Eric Curts

Website Design with Google Slides – A video from Josh Pomeroy demonstrating the potential to use Google Slides to create a mock-up for a website

Google Demo Slam: Epic Docs Animation – An amazing animation created by a group of people over three days using Google Slides

Learning Google Slides and Advanced Search Through Star Wars and Jurassic Park – Jeff Bradbury uses Slides to create animations.

How to Create an Interactive eBook with Google Slides – Rob Kamrowski provides a series of guides for using Google Slides to create an eBook.

8 interactive Google Slides activities for classroom excitement – Another collection of ideas from Mitch Miller, including a collaborative slide book and an online course.

Game Based Learning: Google Slides Coordinate Plane Battleship – Alice Keeler provides a different take on Slides, describing the possibility of creating a collaborative work space.

Presentation Zen – A joint effort between Heather Dowd and Patrick Green unpacking how to make a great presentation.

Adding and Modifying Charts in Slides – Richard Byrne provides an introduction to the new function of being able to use charts from Sheets within Slides.

Google Slides – Using templates – Baz Roberts goes over the intracies of using templates with Google Slides.

Q&A and Google Slides – Jordan Grant outlines the new question and answer function associated with presenting using Google Slides.

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creative commons licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Hazzat

There are many elements which make an effective application. However, what I think stands out the most is the right mix between constraint and creativity. An iOS app that I have used quite a lot lately with this mix is Adobe Voice. Not only is it easy to use – my daughter of four managed to use it with  little support – but it allows for a great mixture of media, whether it be text, visuals, music or voice. Here then is a step by step guide of how to make a presentation with Adobe Voice.

Adobe Voice on iTunes

Downloading the App

The first step to using Adobe Voice is to download it from the App Store. It is available on iPad. Once this is done, you will need to create a free Adobe account, used to store finished stories online.

Adobe Voice - Create a Story

Create a Story

There are so many potentials to Adobe Voice. Once you have your head around the constraints then the sky is the limit. I have used it to get a class to reflect upon a project, share advertisements, solving a problem, celebrating goals, recording a poem or creating a how to guide. The thing to do then is start your story.

Adobe Voice - Starting with an Idea

Start with an Idea

Whether you are recording a book or sharing a problem that you have solved, the next step is deciding exactly what your story is going to be about. If you are short on inspiration and just want to be creative, Adobe also provide a whole lot of prompts listed within different categories, such as business, school and instructional. These can be helpful in getting a feel for the potential of the program.

Adobe Voice - Pick a Structure

Pick a Structure

Once you have decided on a story, you then need to choose a structure. Along with the suggestions for ideas, there are a range of templates to help structure your story. These include:

  • Promote an idea
  • Tell what happened
  • Explain something
  • Follow a hero’s journey
  • Show and tell
  • Share a growth moment
  • Teach a lesson
  • Share an invitation

Each template provides a range of prompts about what to include. This can be useful for students exploring the different elements of text types or if you are simply trying to make something quickly. In addition to this though, you can simply create your own from scratch. It needs to be noted that you can start with a template and then modify that as well.

Adobe Voice - Choosing a Layout

Choose a Layout

Once you have started your story, the first thing that you need to consider of the layout of your slide. There are five options. Some with a mixture of mediums, others with just one. It all depends what you are trying to create. Remember though that each slide can be different.

Select Content

Once you have selected the layout, then you add the content. As stated already, Adobe Voice allows for a range of different media. In regards to the slides, there are usually three options: icon, photo and text. At a very basic level, you can search for images and icons. Adobe then finds images online tagged ‘commerical use with modifaction‘ via sites such as Google, Flickr, 500px and the Noun Project. The catch with this is that such searches do not filter content, therefore students using it can come back with anything. In addition to this, you can connect with your own images via the iPad, Creative Cloud, Dropbox, Lightroom and Facebook.

Adobe Voice - Recording Voice

Recording Voice

Once you have the text and images organised, the next step is to then record your voice. All you do is hold down the orange button and release it once done. At 10 seconds, you will receive a warning to keep it short. One thing that I have found is that in order to make sure you capture the whole thing, it can be good to hold the button for an extra second when recording. What I like the most is how easy it is to playback, assess, reflect and re-record if needed.

Adobe Voice - Repeat til Complete

Repeat Until Story is Complete

To complete the story, you repeat the steps associated with layout, content and voice slide after slide until you have finished.

Choosing a Theme

Choose a Theme

Before finishing your story, choose a theme. Each will structure the content differently, applying different effects. For those wanting more, you can customise themes by changing colours and fonts.

Adobe Voice - Selecting Music

Select the Music

Along with the choosing the theme, you can also select the music. There is a range of soundtracks provided, organised into different categories, such as happy, playful, relaxed and thoughtful. Like the image search, the tracks are all available under Creative Commons licensing.

Adobe Voice - Sharing the Story

Share Your Story

The final step is to share the finished product. You can actually do this at any time by clicking the button in the top right hand corner. Before publishing, you can assign a category, as well as edit the credits and author information. In addition to this, you can decided whether you want to make it public or private. By making it public, the video is stored within Adobe Cloud and gets added to the collection on the Adobe site, while keeping it private means that only those with the link can access it. To publish, you simply choose how you want the link shared, whether it be via Facebook, Twitter, email, iMessage or to the clipboard. A recent addition has been the option to save finished product to the camera roll. This provides the ability to then publish elsewhere online, such as to Youtube or Vimeo, and ‘co-claim‘. Although please note that once you have removed the content from iPad, you can no longer download to the camera roll. Once published online, Adobe provide options to embed the finished product to place within a blog or a portfolio.

Below is an example of a presentation made with Adobe Voice:

There are a range of programs out there that support presentations. I think that you could easily create a similar product with Explain Everything or Book Creator, however what always brings me back again and again to Voice is its simplicity and style.

What about you? What is it that makes a good application? How have you used Adobe Voice? As always, comments welcome.

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creative commons licensed (BY-NC-ND) flickr photo by Chris Pirillo: http://flickr.com/photos/lockergnome/6258696195
In the last few weeks, many of my students have been grappling with the creation of digital products. Even though I more often than not leave the decision up to them as to what medium they choose to use, too often they arrive at the same conclusion – Microsoft PowerPoint. Now I am not saying that using PowerPoint is wrong, I just question the why it is always the first choice.
This wondering got me thinking about how we have arrived at such a situation. My feeling is that the students are often rushed in regards to choosing the medium for their presentsations and given little scope or encouragement to branch out. I love +Michelle Meracis‘ phrase ‘student voice, student choice’. Yet for too many, in sticking with PowerPoint, this supposed choice is reduced to ‘images and text‘ as +Corrie Barclay warns.
I think that this perceived lack of choice is sometimes brought about by teachers who themselves feel uncomfortable about offering different options and only model one way. I was really encouraged by a recent post from Barclay ‘1 iPad, 1 Task, 15 Ways‘. In it he outlined what he saw as some of the options available for a particular assignment his students were completing. The reality is that there are always alternatives, I guess the challenge is being aware of them.
Coming back to my point about PowerPoint, here then are three simple alternatives to the traditional presentation:

Haiku Deck

Initially built for the iPad, but now accessible in the browser, Haiku Deck allows you to create highly visual presentations by quickly access Creative Commons images. Sadly, the appropriate use of images is too often overlooked in and out of the classroom in my opinion as for many it involves too much effort. Anything then that simplifies this process is only a good thing.

Becoming a Connected Educator (TL21C) – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires


An online platform, Powtoon allows you to create catchy animated videos with ease. With a wide range of images and icons, it often dragging items into the slide and then deciding how things will appear and for how long. In addition to this, there are a wide range of templates you can use as a starting point.


Adobe Voice

A free iPad app that Dale Pearce put me onto, Adobe Voice is both easy and effective. Like Haiku Deck, it provides access to a wide range of Creative Commons images and icons, as well as an array of themes. What makes it different though is that, like Microsoft Photo Story 3 for Windows, it provides a means for easily narrating various slides. The only issue I have is that the videos are housed within Adobe’s storage system, which can be a bit cumbersome.

For those who do wish to persist with PowerPoint, George Couros recently wrote a fantastic post outlining ten things to consider when creating a PowerPoint (and not animations). Another interesting resource I found was a presentation by Jesse Desjardins on Slideshare:
Although as I have suggested elsewhere that it takes more than an app to make a good presentation, the medium does at least have a part to play. So what presentation tool are you using or should I just give up the ghost and learn to love PowerPoint?

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With the start of the year comes the routine pitch to staff and students about non-negotiable expectations. I understand that we need to have expectations. Those collective values that bind us together and put everyone on the same page. Those values that lay a foundation on which learning can occur. However, how these non-negotiables are presented to staff and students has a considerable impact on what sort of learning this is and how these expectations are taken up and carried out. This includes the reasons we provide for such expectations, the manner in which they are presented and most importantly, the length of the presentation. Sadly these speeches and spiels are given with little thought to convincing and instead focus on pulling everyone into line.
Towards the end of last year I attended the AEU’s ‘Active Training’ Professional Development Session. During the discussion of the consultative committee and staff meetings, one of the union presenters suggested that these were prime opportunities for a principal to to sell his or her vision for the school. What is disappointing is that such forums are anything but a sell. They often become mechanistic and fail to provide the means for an open dialogue, an opportunity for leadership to not only provide feedback to staff, but also an opportunity for staff to provide feedback to leadership.
In a recent post on creating a class agreement, +Edna Sackson explores what sort of learning is promoted by the agreement created. Providing an array of positive and negative examples found online, she gives a short commentary on each. More interestingly though, Sackson ends with a list of activities to help create a meaningful class agreement. What she is pointing out is that although the class agreement itself is important, just as significant is environment in which they are created.
So often we get caught up in the definition or expectations when it is the creation and presentation of such ideas is just as, if not more, important. As +Doug Belshaw suggests in regards to digital literacies, the most important thing is often the actual process of coming up with a definition of what constitutes ‘digital literacies’, rather than the actual definition itself. As I have stated elsewhere, what often matters is not what message is sold, rather how that message is presented. In the end, the real non-negotiable is not whether staff and students wear the right uniform or the way they use technology, rather the real non-negotiable is the positive means in which we present ourselves to others and whether we are willing to provide a legitimate reason for people to follow.

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In a recent blog, Corrie Barclay shared his experiences from a recent meeting he attended where Dr. Bill Rankin spoke about presentations. In conclusion, Corrie came up with the following, that:
The creation of a presentation is more than just images and text on a slide. To effectively engage an audience and convey powerful messages, you need to consider those messages and specific design principles that will allow present your information in the most effective manner possible.
I could not agree more that it is more than ‘images and texts’. A presentation is also about more than just an app or a device. I am not saying that apps are not powerful, but in my view having a good app is only one part of the puzzle that is a good presentation. Let me diverge for a moment to explain.
At a recent staff meeting, we had Tony Richards come and speak about cyber safety smarts. Not only was I left pondering the consequences of my ongoing digital footprint, but I was also left perplexed as to what made the presentation so compelling. Usually staff are ready to sprint out the door at 4:30, but everyone stayed seated for an extra twenty minutes as proceedings went a little overtime. In conversation the next day, a fellow staff member commented on Tony’s slide transitions and questioned whether I could do that in my presentations. While I knew that his visual presentation was smooth and seamless, a very well-oiled machine, I still felt that it was only part of the magic. In addition to the visuals, I felt that the knowledge and control of the content was impeccable. There were no questions that he was asked that he could not respond to and add to in an instant. Having heard endless cyber-safety presentations before, there was also a sense of honesty about what was said. Supporting this, Tony has the great ability to fluctuate between the serious and the humorous, such as showing a video of what it would be like if we did what we did on Facebook in real life to highlight some of the absurdities of social media, to speaking about particular cases of sexting and child pornography to highlight some of the hidden realities of life in a virtual space. All along, he provided a positive message, even if many of the consequences seem rather gloomy. Lastly, what kept many of the discussions going over following days was the fact that Tony sent through a plethora of resources in support of the ideas that he was talking about, therefore allowing teachers to follow their own trails of thought.
I am not saying that Tony’s presentation was the greatest presentation that I have ever witnessed. However, in my view, it was a successful presentation. In my opinion, I think that there are three key ingredients that make for a successful presentation. They are:
1. Having good content and a clear message
2. Delivering the message in a flexible and engaging manner
3. Providing supporting material that builds upon and adds to the delivery of the content

I will now build upon each of these things.


Whenever I teach story writing, I always explain to my students that it is the ability to delete material that makes the success of a composition. This is no different when developing a presentation. More often than not, we get caught in a trap where we try to provide too much information. feeling that everything needs to be covered. However, the consequences of this is that so many different (and sometimes contradictory) ideas get bounced around that the original message and purpose for the presentation gets lost in the noise. What is important is to take a step back and unpack each piece of information, questioning whether it adds or hinders the presentation. If it hinders, then often it needs to go (or be provided in the additional material).
Associated with having a clear message, is the challenge of what to present in the first place. Sadly, more often than not, the whole content of professional development and presentations is dictated by financial pragmatism or legal imperatives. It is always hard to be passionate about what you present when what you are presenting you have no passion for. (No offence, I have yet to meet anyone in life who is passionate about occupational health and safety.) 
This is often the case with staff meetings, where the content provided is dictated by education office or various health and safety guidelines. It was a breath of fresh air at the start of term when my principal had the opportunity to present about something that he was truly passionate about, the history of the Victorian education system. Although there is a requirement to rollout the National Curriculum, he started the meeting by putting the current situation in context with all of the other changes that have occurred over time. Although it may not have been the most interesting of topics, the presentation carried a certain energy that comes when you are passionate about something.
Another similar example was a recent ICT smorgasbord that I was a part of. Although maybe not as free and open as an un-conference or a teachmeet, staff were given the opportunity to present on the topic of ICT prior to the day, with the rest of the staff then signing up for two different presentations. Not only did this give staff a sense of trust and autonomy in regards to the choice of PD (Peter DeWitt recently wrote about this topic in his recent blog), but it also allowed people to share what they are most passionate about, whatever that maybe. What is most disappointing about both of these scenarios is that they are often few and far between in today’s age of overcrowded meeting schedules.


Whether I agree with everything he says or not, Jony Ive, the Senior Vice President in Design for Apple, has got the art of delivery all worked out. Although I maybe sceptical about the exaggeration of the content provided, he certainly knows how to use intonation, pitch, pace and pauses to hit home his message. After watching his spiel for the the new iPhone 5c, I was wondering whether it really was the ‘cheaper’ iPhone.
Another master of delivery is Bear Grylis, particularly in regards to his post-production narrations. Even though you know fully well that he is not going to die, the tension that he creates through his delivery carries the viewer along.

In addition to the manner in which presentations are given, another key element relating to delivery is the ability to adjust to the situation. Coming back to Tony’s presentation, I think that is one of his strengths, to be willing to crack a joke in order to break things up. Associated with this, it is important to be able to adjust to the situation. I remember a few years ago having to listen to a tour guide in Vietnam speaking about the ruins at My Son. It was six in the morning and everyone was barely awake, let alone showing much interest. However, our guide went on and on for near on thirty minutes, as if he was reading from a manual, unwilling to either answer questions or shorten  his spiel. Not only was his delivery dry, but it lacked an authentic sense of voice.

Supporting Material

I remember being told an urban legend at university about a presentation given by Simon During, during the heydays of Cultural Studies, where he showed images of supermodels while delivering a presentation on Victorian novels. I think the point was to break up the unquestioned connection between the presenter and their support material. I think that what During’s example shows is that supporting material has a story to tell and is often just as important as the content and delivery of a presentation.
There are many programs used to create and support presentations, with the original being Microsoft PowerPoint. However, some other examples that have popped up in recent time include Haiku Deck, Prezi and Google Presentations. Each of these applications offers a suite of tools and tricks, including transitions, animations, effects etc… However, in my view, the greatest trick of all is being able to tell a story in a clear and uncluttered manner.
A great practitioner of the ‘clear and uncluttered’ mantra is John Pearce. In all of my conferences and professional development sessions, I have never actually seen John present, but through a range of means, such as Twitter and other people’s blogs, I have viewed many of his presentations. (I think this as much testament to John’s penchant for sharing.) Whether it be focusing on student curation or providing an introduction to Edmodo, John’s presentations are usually not much more than a so-called collection of ‘images and texts’. However, it is his ability to clearly tell a story that makes his presentations so good. This is not only done through the use of clear headings and images, but he also provides various points of commentary along the way. Take the following page as an example:
On this page, the heading clearly states the purpose of the page, this is then followed with a screenshot from Edmodo showing the aspect in question, while further explanation is provided at the bottom of the page. Although seemingly nothing more than a Google Presentation, the presentation does everything that it needs to do to help carry across the content.
In addition to backing up the presentation at hand, supporting materials, whether it be links to various websites or resources, allow the listener to continue their investigation. This may include simply providing examples and materials in support of the content spoken about or even providing a whole book in some cases. Again I come back to Corrie Barclay. For his presentation on integrating iPads at VITTA 2013, he created a eBook full of information that allows the participant to continue their learning long after the actual presentation has finished.

Another way in which supporting materials are important is that they allow the dialogue to continue on. Recently whilst trawling my Twitter feed I read a tweet from Troy Moncur.

What struck me about the tweet is that with the advent of various social media platforms, presentations now have the ability to carry on long after the lights have been turned off. They no longer need to finish, rather they now have the ability to link from one presentation to the next.


Coming back to the initial argument, that presentations are more than ‘images and texts’, there is one thing that has been taken for granted and that is what a presentation actually is. In today’s day and age of screencasts, digital presentations and flipped classrooms, the notion of a person presenting to people is already under threat. However, there is one thing that will never change, that is that it will always take more than an app to make a good presentation.

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