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conference research

Storytelling for academics

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In 2012 I gave a short presentation on a few elements of giving a conference presentation, using images from Pixar movies (see bottom of post). I wanted to convey the idea that sharing academic research needn’t be boring, a problem that I think is rife among academics. That’s why I was delighted to come across Pixar’s 22 rules of storytelling, some of which I think can be adapted for academics to use when sharing their work.

  1. You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.
  2. You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be very different.
  3. Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.
  4. Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.
  5. Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.
  6. What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?
  7. Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.
  8. Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.
  9. When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.
  10. Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.
  11. Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.
  12. Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.
  13. Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.
  14. Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.
  15. If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.
  16. What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.
  17. No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on – it’ll come back around to be useful later.
  18. You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.
  19. Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.
  20. Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d’you rearrange them into what you DO like?
  21. You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write ‘cool’. What would make YOU act that way?
  22. What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.

Here is the presentation I gave:


Categories
diigo

Posted to Diigo 09/11/2011

    • To experience something has a far more profound effect on your ability to remember and influence you than if you simply read it in a book
    • You’ve cast a learner into the world. And that’s the most powerful thing you can do as a teacher
    • The enthusiastic teacher is fundamental to igniting flames of interest in any student in any subject
    • a totally different way of thinking about “teaching” one where “instead of controlling a classroom, a teacher now influences or shapes a network.”
    • apprenticeship for every student in our classrooms these days is not so much grounded in a trade or a profession as much as it is grounded in the process of becoming a learner
    • we teach kids to learn
    • we don’t teach subjects, we teach kids
    • We can’t teach kids to learn unless we are learners ourselves, and our understanding of learning has to encompass the rich, passion-based interactions that take place in these social learning spaces online
    • seeing the purpose of higher education as going beyond the acquisition of knowledge and skills
    • Only this will provide flexibility in applying knowledge, skills, and understanding that will suffice at a time of rapid change and ‘super-complexity’ in dealing with emerging issues and new problems.
    • encourages the development of courses “that set a broad agenda from the start, highlighting the ways of thinking and practicing that are required, and introducing broad questions as ‘throughlines’ that keep students focused on the importance of reaching understanding for themselves.”
    • That doesn’t mean students get to interpret the material as they see fit. It’s more about them making the material their own, storing it where they can find it, and configuring it so that it usefully connects with what else they know
    • convinced that most of our courses need to be reconstructed, if not destructed and rebuilt
    • Entwistle, N. (2010). Taking stock: An overview of key research findings. In J. C. Hughes and J. Mighty, eds., Taking Stock: Research on Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. Kingston, Ontario, Canada: School of Policy Studies, Queens University
Categories
diigo gaming learning research social media teaching technology

Posted to Diigo 08/17/2011

I did a lot of reading and highlighting the other night, which is why this is so long. I’ve been bookmarking a lot of articles (about 400 at the last count) over the past 6 months or so, and will be trying to get through them over the next few months. There might be more long posts like this one (aggregationsof Diigo highlights) as a consequence.

    • I truly believe that a combination of actively influencing a story line in combination with a reaction upon the decisions taken would make learners feel more appreciated or valued if you will and encourage them to continue learning with that program instead of only getting negative feedback in from of a summary assessment when a chapter or course is finished
    • According to Rita Kop PLE is a UK term and PLN an American term. Dave Cormier questions whether the term personal should be used at all. Stephen Downes points out that personal is an OK term if you think about [Personal Learning] Network as opposed to [Personal] Learning Network – and similarly for PLE
    • the words are not as important as the process
    • a Personal Learning Environment (PLE) is more concerned with tools and technology and that Personal Learning Networks (PLN) are more concerned with connections to people
    • The PLE takes me to my PLN through various gates and paths
    • they’re the ticket and ride, not the destination
    • The PLN is then more akin to a community, but with much looser connections, described in the literature as “weak ties”
    • possible roles involved in networked learning that the teacher may be classified as (Expert: Someone with sustained contribution to a field, Teacher: experts with authority, Curator: play the role of interpreting, organizing, and presenting content, Facilitator: able to guide, direct, lead, and assist learners, not necessarily being a subject matter expert
    • why focus on PLEs? Shouldn’t we be trying to figure out how to make PLN work better?
    • Development of your PLE is about working with technology, refining your use of tools to give you more keys or more efficient access to your network of people and resources
    • “Pundits may be asking if the Internet is bad for our children’s mental development, but the better question is whether the form of learning and knowledge-making we are instilling in our children is useful to their future.”
    • we can’t keep preparing students for a world that doesn’t exist
    • The contemporary American classroom, with its grades and deference to the clock, is an inheritance from the late 19th century. During that period of titanic change, machines suddenly needed to run on time. Individual workers needed to willingly perform discrete operations as opposed to whole jobs. The industrial-era classroom, as a training ground for future factory workers, was retooled to teach tasks, obedience, hierarchy and schedules.
    • Teachers and professors regularly ask students to write papers. Semester after semester, year after year, “papers” are styled as the highest form of writing.
      • And yet they will probably never have to communicate anything in that format ever again…unless they also become academics
    • question the whole form of the research paper
    • “What if bad writing is a product of the form of writing required in school — the term paper — and not necessarily intrinsic to a student’s natural writing style or thought process?”
    • A classroom suited to today’s students should de-emphasize solitary piecework
    • That classroom needs new ways of measuring progress, tailored to digital times — rather than to the industrial age or to some artsy utopia where everyone gets an Awesome for effort.
    • Blended learning lets designers split off prerequisite material from the rest  of a course
    • Blended learning lets instructional designers separate rote content focusing  on lower-order thinking skills, which can be easily taught online, from critical  thinking skills, which many instructors feel more comfortable addressing  in the classroom
    • Learners can have more meaningful conversations about these  topics because they have developed a familiarity with basic management  policies and procedures and have had time to integrate what they know into  their thinking
    • We cannot have it both ways: quality of thinking and speed are anathema to each other.
    • Covering content is daunting enough, but providing the time necessary to indulge in the quality conversations that make learning truly engaging is almost impossible
    • the challenge of articulating thoughts quickly
    • post two dynamic questions online each night. These questions have many possible answers, require analysis of content and the creation of unique ideas
    • when we revisit these discussions in the classroom, students have a plethora of ideas to share. They are no longer scared to speak out because they have a confidence born from their online discussions and the validation of their peers
    • weave those online conversations back into the classroom
      • “Some students have great ideas, but they experience difficulty expressing those ideas clearly.
    • Good practice in undergraduate education:
    • We address the teacher’s how, not the subject-matter what, of good  practice in undergraduate education. We recognize that content and pedagogy interact in  complex ways.
    • An undergraduate education should prepare students to  understand and deal intelligently with modern life.
    • 1. Encourages Contact Between Students and Faculty  Frequent student-faculty contact in and out of classes is the most   important factor in student motivation and involvement. Faculty   concern helps students get through rough times and keep on working.   Knowing a few faculty members well enhances students’ intellectual   commitment and encourages them to think about their own values and   future plans.
    • 2. Develops Reciprocity and Cooperation Among Students  Learning is enhanced when it is more like a team effort that a   solo race. Good learning, like good work, is collaborative and social,   not competitive and isolated. Working with others often increases   involvement in learning. Sharing one’s own ideas and responding to   others’ reactions sharpens thinking and deepens understanding.
    • 3. Encourages Active Learning  Learning is not a spectator sport. Students do not learn much just   by sitting in classes listening to teachers, memorizing pre-packaged   assignments, and spitting out answers. They must talk about what they   are learning, write about it, relate it to past experiences and apply   it to their daily lives. They must make what they learn part of   themselves.
    • 4. Gives Prompt Feedback  Knowing what you know and don’t know focuses learning. Students   need appropriate feedback on performance to benefit from courses.   When getting started, students need help in assessing existing   knowledge and competence. In classes, students need frequent   opportunities to perform and receive suggestions for improvement. At   various points during college, and at the end, students need chances   to reflect on what they have learned, what they still need to know,   and how to assess themselves.
    • 5. Emphasizes Time on Task  Time plus energy equals learning. There is no substitute for time   on task. Learning to use one’s time well is critical for students and   professionals alike. Students need help in learning effective time   management. Allocating realistic amounts of time means effective   learning for students and effective teaching for faculty. How an   institution defines time expectations for students, faculty,   administrators, and other professional staff can establish the basis   of high performance for all.
    • 6. Communicates High Expectations  Expect more and you will get more. High expectations are important   for everyone — for the poorly prepared, for those unwilling to exert   themselves, and for the bright and well motivated. Expecting students   to perform well becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy when teachers and   institutions hold high expectations for themselves and make extra  efforts.
    • 7. Respects Diverse Talents and Ways of Learning  There are many roads to learning. People bring different talents   and styles of learning to college. Brilliant students in the seminar   room may be all thumbs in the lab or art studio. Students rich in   hands-on experience may not do so well with theory. Students need the   opportunity to show their talents and learn in ways that work for them.   Then they can be pushed to learn in new ways that do not come so easily.
    • tell real stories from your own life in a way that is relevant and engaging to your audience. If more people could just remember that great speeches or presentations leverage the power of the speaker’s own stories
    • we must not talk ourselves out of being who we really are
    • People do not care about your excuses, they care only about seeing your authentic self
    • People crave authenticity just about more than anything else, and one way to be your authentic self and connect with an audience is by using examples and stories from your own life that illuminate your message in an engaging, memorable way
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twitter feed

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-03-01

  • Reflective practise and assessment at http://bit.ly/kgj1c #
  • Social media applied to online-only university, open courseware and peer-to-peer learning http://bit.ly/pQXsX #
  • Nice explanation of the semantic web by Tim Berners-Lee, in Scientific American (2001), so a bit old but still good http://bit.ly/e40PA #
  • A matrix of uses of blogging in education, prepared by Scott Leslie in 2003, at http://bit.ly/RK7Dt. Original blog at http://bit.ly/GjWhO #
  • Learning in and within an open wiki project: Wikiversity’s potential in global capacity building at http://bit.ly/18P7gv #
  • Web 2.0 storytelling: emergence of a new genre, about creating rich media with social media, quite cool, at http://bit.ly/rPKg3 #
  • Developing professional physiotherapy competence by internet-based reflection, at http://bit.ly/9rHSE #
  • Using micro-blogging in education; presentation on Slideshare, plenty of related slideshows as well. Available at http://bit.ly/CuOA5 #
  • Another slideshow about using Twitter for education, slides 3, 6, 11 are pretty cool. Available at http://bit.ly/7I32r #
  • Rehab+, a physio-related database from McMaster University (the home of EBP), providing citations 4 the latest evidence http://bit.ly/SuuPd #
  • RT @benwerd The people are the social network; the site is the tool that facilitates that network. #
  • If everyone opened up their APIs, could we have a web without the web? #
  • Who are the Net Generation (Gen Y)? http://bit.ly/8MhDi #
  • The disruption of textbook publishing, too expensive (time, labour, resources). Are digital books a solution? Wikis? http://bit.ly/279Ls #
  • Basic guidelines on how to design a questionnaire for conducting research in health (2 links – http://bit.ly/GPQLA and http://bit.ly/KKlZ5) #

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