I posted last week about my attempts to mashup a slide show with sound at Slideshare.net. I took an Impress show on the life of Thomas a’ Becket I created about a year and a half ago and recorded some narration, simply to see how the service works. The results were very positive: it was both a Featured Slideshow (without sound) and, once I added the audio, the Slidecast of the Day. To date, it’s had over 400 views, and I’ve had some nice comments and private e-mail sent my way.
While I think bulletpoints have their places, I remember distinctly wanting to move in a more visual direction when I first put this together. Unfortunately, as any of my students can tell you, my lack of ability in the visual arts is legendary. Stick figures are about as detailed as I can get.
Mulling that over in my head, I asked myself, “Why not just go with stick figures, then?” Several hours later, the first of my Stick Figure Theatre presentations was born, and it was a hit with my Honors Brit Lit class. I share it with you folks not to garner e-pats on the back, but rather to give hope to the artistically disinclined that with a little creativity, even an utter lack of talent can’t stop you!
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For the teachers asking themselves, “So what does this mean for me?”, the biggest takeaway lesson I got was, “Less is more.” I could have made a 50-slide presentation with a million bulletpointed facts and gorgeous backgrounds (well, I couldn’t have, but someone else could have), but for some reason, I think the DIY ethic of this show struck a chord with my students. It certainly has none of the elegance of some of Dan’s stuff, and I’d never call it great art, but I think it has a bit of rough-around-the-edges appeal that you can’t get from a PowerPoint template.
It’s a timely lesson, as the New York Times recently ran a piece on the constant re-branding of merchandise in an effort to be more in our faces (and our students, as a major target demographic, bear the brunt of this). There’s something to be said today for simplicity in design – just because we have a million design tools at our disposal doesn’t mean we have to use them all (especially not all at once!). Just something to keep in mind as we prepare those first month of school and Back-to-School Night presentations.
Update, 8/14: If you’re reading this in a feedreader, there’s an embedded video that may not show up in your reader (it didn’t in mine, anyway) – come to the site to check it out. Also, I realized after I uploaded that in the third from last slide, I mistakenly referred to Beckett as “Henry”.
Love the point about not always having to use every design tool available to you. I tell my students this all the time, especially when it comes to PowerPoint. I have them create their own pictures and backgrounds for some of their projects. They hate it in the beginning but come to appreciate the creative process in it. Thanks for reminding me to keep on encouraging things like this…not just with PowerPoint but in other areas as well.