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PowerPoint-less

Please, please, please, I beg you. If you are going to give a presentation using some type of presentation software (Keynote, PowerPoint, Impress, etc.), make sure that you have done your homework. Here are a few things that really ruffle my feathers:

  • Don’t just read what is on the slide! Anyone in the room is going to be able to read the slide. If you are just going to read what is on each slide, don’t bother with the presentation. Just print the dang thing and give it to me to read (or toss) at my leisure.
  • Ditch the stupid animations. In this case, less is definitely more. Unless there is a real purpose (rare) to having an animation, don’t do it. It does not show that you are a techno-savy computer wiz. It just shows that you have a new toy and are trying to impress people with the rice-cake equivalent of a presentation (it feels like you’re eating something, but you’re still hungry when you are done eating).
  • Learn to use the arrow keys on the keyboard. The right arrow is for going to the next slide and the left arrow is for going to the previous slide. Don’t use the mouse! It’s tacky when the mouse/arrow/cursor appears on the screen. Learn how to navigate around your slides without having to cancel the presentation and go back to the slide sorter.
  • Make the font large and easy to read.
  • Practice, practice, practice.
  • Before you create a slideshow ask yourself if it is really necessary to have. You may discover that there are alternate, less distracting ways of getting your point across.

I’m sure I could think of more things to say, but I’m hungry and it’s time to eat. Ciao!

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Task Analysis

The other day we had a meeting. It was about “Task Analysis.” I don’t mind meetings, as long as they are productive (a.k.a. “useful”). But this one left me wondering a bit about what it was that we were supposed to have learned.

The meeting was about “doing task analysis.” I must be a slow learner or something, but what does it mean to “do task analysis”? I understand what a task it and what it means to analyze (or perform an analysis), but doing task analysis?!?

As an educator, I have been subjected to many years of what has become known as, edu-speak. Some educators seem to think that they must find new words to use to say the “same ‘ol thing” that has been said many, many times before. Therefore, in order to put a fresh coat of paint on the same old car, they use their handy-dandy thesaurus and look up words with similar meanings.

In a classroom setting, isn’t “task analysis” just analyzing the tasks? You don’t do task analysis. Just say what you mean and mean what you say. You analyze the tasks. To me, that means that I should be constantly checking my “compass” to make sure that I’m on the right track with what I’m trying to teach and what I want the students to learn.

iPad Reviews

Walter S. Mossberg for The Wall Street Journal

David Pogue for The New York Times

Edward C. Baig for USA Today

Andy Ihnatko for Chicago Sun Times

As a high school teacher, I often see kids with pants sagging so badly that they have to either walk funny, or hang on to them with one hand to keep them from falling down. First of all, if they are worried about them falling down, why do they let them sag? Secondly, if they don’t care about them sagging and falling down, why not just let them go and be done with it?

I’m a wanna be videographer and I’ve often thought about making a commercial that would go something like this:

Open with wide angle of a savannah in Africa, several herds of animals are grazing in the tall grass, among them is a herd of gazelles. They occasionally look up, searching for predators. Cut to a group of boys at a high school standing around talking. Cut back to the savannah. A lioness is stalking through the tall grass and slowly comes to a stop. Cut back to the school. A security guard in his electric golf cart is staring suspiciously at the group of boys. Cut to the savannah. The animals become anxious and more heads pop up from the grass, all looking in the direction of the lioness low in the grass. Cut to the school. The boys are all now staring at the security guard. Cut to the savannah. The lioness starts to run towards the animals. Cut to the school. The security guard starts driving towards the group of boys. Cut to the savannah. The animals start to run away. Cut to the school. The boys start to run. Cut to the savannah. One lame gazelle starts to lag behind and the lioness has singled it out. Cut to the school. One boy can’t run fast since his pants are sagging so badly. The security guard singles him out. Cut to the savannah. The lioness takes down the lame gazelle. Cut to the school. The security guard catches the lame boy (I mean the boy with the sagging pants). Cut to the savannah. In the tall grass, the lioness has stopped to feed on her victim. Only the top of the her back can be seen as her head occasionally dips into the grass to eat. Fade to black. Text and voiceover say, “Sagging: Natural selection at work. Keep it up!”

It’s not December 21, 2012, but rather April 3, 2010 that will herald in a new age. I’m talking about the iPad that is about to be released. This will be the day that our kids look back on and say, “I remember when the computer died.”

The thing about the iPad is that, it is what you want it to be, when you want it to be it, and not when you don’t. Get it? When you need a keyboard, it’s there.

If computers are so smart, why do we have to take classes to learn how to use them? As advanced as computers are these days, they haven’t really changed much from the days of the Apple II. Sure they are faster and prettier, but we still have to learn how to use them. I don’t think computers will be truly advanced until I can walk into my house and ask, “what’s in the fridge?” and my computer answers. I should be able to ask, “Do I have any messages?” and the computer responds, “You have one voicemail and three emails.” Computers need to do what they do and get out of our way.

I teach computer classes at a local computer store. If computers were truly advanced, I wouldn’t have a job. I long for the day when computers can put an end to having to take classes just to learn how to use them. Most adults feel incredibly stupid around computers and they shouldn’t have to feel that way. The iPad is going to change all that.

What do most people do with a computer? Most people check their email, update Facebook, look at pictures and surf the web. I know many adults that have shiny new computers and all they do is play solitaire. They could’ve just bought a $3 deck of cards and been better off (plus it’s easier to cheat with real cards).