Tuesday, August 21, 2012

R625: Laying the Foundation

This semester I am taking R625: Designing Instructional Systems. This course uses authentic consultation experiences to teach how to be professional consultants. The past several days I have been rattling my brain trying to come up with a legitimate project that I can use for this course. It seems that the project should be outside of our typical working hierarchy, which makes the majority of what I might consider irrelevant. Additionally, my main job functions tend to be short-term consultation and planning. Some projects to consider:

  • Moodle upgrade to 2.x - I will be planning and implementing an upgrade but the timeline is too long for one semester. Rather than tackling the entire upgrade, I had considered focusing on a smaller portion of the overall project such as archival of courses, development of training materials, ect.
  • Digital Storytelling Project for Civic, Global & Professional Opportunities (CGPOpps) - CGPOpps is interested in having students who return from off-campus internships develop digital stories of their experience. I would be working with them with one of my co-workers to develop a training plan for the students.
  • Non-profit website creation - I had previously been approached about developing a website for a non-profit organization. They were in the planning stage and nothing concrete had been finalized. This might be a good opportunity to open the lines of communication for this project.
  • Cyber Security Awareness Week (CSAW) - The last week of October is CSAW, which I and my interns will be planning a strategy for
  • IS KnowledgeBase - Another possibility is working with the HelpDesk to develop materials for the IS KnowledgeBase. I currently maintain the Moodle & DyKnow material, but would be interested in increasing the instructions available. Moving into video tutorials has also been discussed.
Those are the main projects that I think could be applicable for the course. I might find that all of them won't work for one reason or another, so I am going to keep my mind open and searching for a project!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Mastering Prezi for Business Presentations

Last academic year I was approached by Packt Publishing to be a technical reviewer for a book on Prezi. They approached me through email as a result of one of my blog posts. I was not familiar with Packt, so I conducted the typically email scam investigation. They seemed legit, so I agreed to become a technical reviewer for the book.

The book was Mastering Prezi for Business Presentations by Russell Anderson-Williams, a true Prezi Master. Before reviewing this book, I felt that I knew Prezi fairly well. In fact, it has become my default presentation software. I can even boast that I do not make people sea sick! (which I think speaks volumes of my Prezi skills) Despite my overall comfort and knowledge of Prezi, I can say that I honestly learned more about Prezi work-arounds and tips&tricks than I previously knew were possible. With Prezi's ever expanding product, I imagine most of these work-arounds will be a relic of the past but I can at least make it do what I want in the present. Russell was incredibly knowledgeable and I highly recommend this book (not just because of my fantastic bio!). While this book does have a decided business focus (couldn't pick that up from the name, could you?!), it really can be applied to outside the business world.

The Table of Contents is fairly robust:
Chapter 1: Best Practices with Imagery
Chapter 2: Using Audio
Chapter 3: Inserting a Video
Chapter 4: Approaching Your Prezi Design
Chapter 5: Projecting Your Prezi
Chapter 6: Prezis for Online Delivery
Chapter 7: Importing Slides into Prezi
Chapter 8: Prezi for iPad and Android
Chapter 9: Mastering the Newer Prezi Features
Chapter 10: Prezi Meeting
Chapter 11: Getting Prezi through the Door
What most impressed me about this book was that it went beyond the simple details of how to create a Prezi and a path. Sure it covered raster vs. vector images and the different ways of inserting sound, but more than that it covered the idea of Prezi as the anti PowerPoint. This fact is often lost on new Prezenters as they find the familiarity of the slide-by-slide presentation comforting. The approach that this book took really empowered the reader to forge into the non-linear relationships that are at the heart of Prezi's design. Plus, the technical how-to of the book was also spot on (I humbly admonish with little to no pride as that was my focus as a technical reviewer). If you are interested in learning Prezi, give this book a try.

Before ending this post I would like to say that I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly my Packt liaison answered questions and responded to my messages. My overall experience as a technical reviewer was fantastic, even though it was more time consuming than one would imagine. I think I gained a lot of great experience and have developed an interest to assist with more projects like this. As a technical reviewer I was given one print copy of the book I reviewed as well as a choice of one digital book. I chose the book HTML5 Games Development by Example, so I will be providing a review on that book in the future.