Friday, 1 October 2010

How to make complex, simple

"There are a lot of slides, may be too many. It’s sometimes difficult to keep up especially when they are complicated. I like visuals but there’s too much information sometimes."
"I would like simple diagrams or to make my own diagrams so it is my own understanding."

"The slides don’t help to reinforce my learning. They confuse me sometimes. We sometimes don’t have enough time to look at them and think about them. If they were more direct with only one or two points that would help me know what I need to know or supported by notes so I can write on them."
Yes, the words of my own students in response to the L4L question I had a colleague ask of them at a recent ToK classroom visit: "Do the slides I use in class help or hinder learning.?" Here's one of the slides I made that I rely on regularly—'Justified True Belief' or JTB. Here are two others I use periodically on the 'Three Types of Knowledge' and 'Inductivism.'

After looking these over with the 'zen' eye, and after perusing some of the ideas in Garr Reynolds, Presentation Zen, I wonder why I've not applied my lived-by motto of 'less is more' to these slides! Somehow, I have an easier time living 'less is more' outside of the workplace! Or, maybe I say it but I don't really live by it to the extent I thought I did! So, now's my chance to rectify this. I'm being called to the plate—by my students and by my COETAIL instructor, Jeff Utecht!
"Sometimes, we're presented with so much visual and auditory stimulation in such a short time that we end up understanding very little and remembering even less." (Reynolds, p, 110)
Now, this is a scary thought. To think that I actually love creating these slides. To think that I can spend 30 mins. to an hour on any one of these. To think that I go back to keep adding more. To think that I think I have to get every last bit of the concept on the slide. So, the idea that I could make 3-4 slides to the 1 slide is the breakthrough I see. I realize now, that although I'm not doing a 'stand & deliver' presentation, but rather an explanation of a concept in an IB class, there's still application to be made here. I can still fix the problem that my students are describing above. (Of course I did get some positive comments about my slides helping them, but it's those negative comments that speak much louder and get our attention. It worked here!)

Time to rethink how to approach JTB (as well as the others, but one at a time first). The first thing that stands out is to take each concept within the concept apart: 1) Justification(s); 2) True; 3) Belief. I've already made these distinctions, but all the one slide—I even use a screen shade to teach each bit at a time. I'll gear up next for a look at how to make these three parts more visually appealing and hopefully more understandable. It's already time-consuming to create the slides, so at least I won't have the time adjustment. It will instead be a new design concept. And, I do like the idea of running it by the students (or even asking them for help along the way this time...)

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