Master of Karaoke?

Karaoke Star!


From the “Research Interests” section of my application package:

“My course work will focus on media, technology and literacy. The proposal for my research project is to focus on media-enhanced presentation styles that encourage improvisation and participation. Specifically, I will be examining PechaKucha, Ignite, PowerPoint Karaoke, and Battle Decks events. My final project will explore how these presentation styles can contribute to meaning-making and community building in an educational setting.

My research will focus on these presentation styles as a new type of literary form; a digital, participatory, fluid and multi-modal script. Through an examination of these presentation formats, I’ll discuss how the enforced structure of these styles affects the information presented, suggesting that the rules demand a creative and intentional approach to meaning-making. I will look at ways in which this enhanced script creates a new performative experience, establishing new relationships between the presenter, audience members and external online participants who are contributing to the discourse during the presentation. I will explore the interplay between the live events and the online commentary, examining how the boundaries blur between the "real" presentation and the "backchannel" conversation, and how this interplay can serve to enhance or distract from the intended meaning of the performance.

My research will draw from and advance the work done by Guelph’s Media Education Project and the international Improvisation, Community, and Social Practice research project. I will be working with educators to explore how these presentation styles can be incorporated into course delivery and student assessment.  Together with these educators, I will explore the new literacies necessary for students to be able to effectively participate in and learn from these new presentation styles.  Beyond the context of the University, I will build partnerships with the technology and arts community and community-based organizations, with the goal of creating a community engaged approach to this scholarship.”

@barrydahl put it well: “Cool – you’re going to get a degree in PechaKucha and Karaoke. I’m looking for a program in slot car racing and ping pong.”

I’ll show him!

Lifeskill: Learn how to present

I’m starting to come down from a bit of a high after presenting at IgniteWaterloo 2.0.

Videos to be posted soon.

A quick shout out to the organizers and all those who presented. A mighty thanks to everyone who attended as well. Y’all should know that we’re starting to plan for IgniteGuelph, June 17th. Not much to look at on this page yet, but stay tuned.

I’ve been thinking a fair amount about how people learn to do effective presentations. I get the sense that most (myself included), learn by watching other presenters, doing a quick search, and then just doing. I’ve certainly found that the more I present, the more comfortable I am, and the better my presentations are.

I’d like to make the case that the ability to craft and deliver effective and engaging presentations should be recognized as a core competency and built into curriculum in secondary school and higher education. I think that presentation skills are as important as numeracy, literacy and writing skills. From what I’ve seen (and I hope I just haven’t found it yet), there are no training or guidelines made available to students. Unfortunately, the exposure students have to other approaches to presenting either comes from their peers (who tend to have similar skills, approach, & experience) or their teachers/instructors (who have a…range…;P).

Presenting is an art and it requires training and practice. People need to know learn how to develop good visuals, to deliver content in engaging ways, to present to different audiences using different media and with different styles, and (I think this is really key), to know how to adjust a presentation to a different style/media/timing on the fly.

I’m encouraging teachers/instructors out there to think about building alternative presentation styles into their course assignments. What about having students do ignite-style talks? If you teach, what about giving one yourself at the beginning of each week? each class? how about once?

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Conference planning committees can lead to premature greying

I guess I should know better. I’m living proof of what happens when you complain. First, your complaints are completely ignored. Eventually, someone pays attention. Ultimately, you’re on a planning committee to “make things better”.

Currently, I’m sitting on steering committees for 2 educational conferences for Summer 2010.

Desire2Learn Users’ Conference
Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile
July 11 through 16, 2010

accessibility conference
Creating Barrier-Free Information and Communication
University of Guelph
June 8 & 9, 2010

In our planning for a Call for Presentations, I’ve been pushing to expand the scope of potential presentation formats and lengths, but have been met with responses that “logistically, this would be a nightmare”. I think we have to embrace the nightmare. Equal 50 minute (30 minute PPT with 20 minute discussion, or whatever), user-led session formats don’t work anymore. Never did, if you ask me. If we want a conference to “rock”, we should think about this. Gladly, I think I might be getting somewhere.

My main point is this: traditional format of user breakout sessions is generally not good design for learning, it promotes and almost entrenches a certain type of presentation. Most folks I talk to will agree that technology should not lead learning design. Why then, are we allowing scheduling technology guide conference design?

I say encourage people submit ideas for what they want to do, and let the planning committee sort it out. Twice in the past year, I’ve submitted proposals in one format and been accepted, but challenged to present my ideas in a different way (once as a poster, once as part of a panel discussion). In both situations, these ended up being my best conference presentations to date.

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Making Conferences Suck Less

As commented to Spark: Aspirational technology, the future of search, and dinner with a stranger.

I go to a fair number of educational/technology conferences, including an upcoming one where you’re the keynote. I do presentations, and occasionally sit on planning committees.

I recently did an ignite-style presentation at Educause09 in Denver, CO. titled “Making Conferences Suck Less”.


Conference feedback and comments seem to have similar themes: “There were too many sessions to choose from”, “The description was misleading”, “I knew more than the presenter did”… I think that social/recommendation search can play a role here. I’m imagining that when someone registers for a conference, they start to build a profile using web-based tools to capture what they do, where they work, the tools they use, challenges they have and things they’d like to share with others. It’s a living, breathing profile that is added to before and during the conference. Maybe it can harvest information from other digital profiles (linkedin, facebook, slideshare, twitter…)

The profiles created are all thrown together into a database where connections are made and groups start to be formed. Participants with similar interests are grouped together, people with things to share are linked up with people who want to learn from them. What results is a highly customized schedule for the conference, where the participants have the chance to share and to learn, make connections, and walk away fulfilled. Think “people who selected this break-out session also selected x” or “we see from your linkedin profile that you’re interested in accessibility standards, meet with this group for lunchtime conversation” or “based on your evaluation of this morning’s keynote, we suggest you attend this panel discussion”.

The schedule is made by the interests of the people attending & instead of you selecting the sessions, the sessions select you!

If done correctly, the conference becomes part of the conversation, and if the “profile” piece can be maintained, then the opportunities for networking beyond the conference event are potentially awesome. I imagine alerts saying “Hello @kylemackie, we see that you’re attending in May 2010, and that you’re interested in social networking, educational technology, and other things geeky, would you like to import a feed from your calendar to arrange for a time to meet with @somebody from someplace who is doing something similar?”

“Yes, wonderful social search engine, I would”

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“Enlighten us … but do it quickly”

What Is Ignite? (from

If you had five minutes on stage what would you say? What if you only got 20 slides and they rotated automatically after 15 seconds? Around the world geeks have been putting together Ignite nights to show their answers.

Ignite was started in Seattle in 2006 by Brady Forrest and Bre Pettis. Since then 100s of 5 minute talks have been given across the world. There are thriving Ignite communities in Seattle, Portland, Paris, and NYC.


ignite waterloo

The lineup from November 25, 2009:

  • Jesse Rodgers: How to run an ‘unconference’
  • Jayne Thompson: Flood Forecasting and Climate Change
  • Aden Seaman: How to Solve a Rubik’s Cube in 90 seconds
  • Brent Curry: Nudging people onto bikes in the age of the automobile
  • David Swart: What do you do with visible spheres?
  • Darin White: Meta-Making: A hacker space in 17 easy steps
  • Jaclyn Konzelmann: Teaching hasn’t changed. Is it still effective?
  • Kevin Thaler: Policing in 2009: Five minutes on twenty years of change
  • David Estil: Here Comes the Sun: Solar Energy as development home and abroad
  • Simon Clark: Hacking the Hood
  • Jason Shim: ‘Til Disconnection Do We Part: A Second Life Wedding
  • Levi McCulloch: A Real Fraternity Road Trip
  • Mark Connolly: Are you sure that’s an album? Metaphor in product design
  • Dr. Matt Renaud: High Altitude Medicine
  • Nick Oddson: How Theatre Helped My Career: Improvisational guidelines for work and life
  • John Fishbein: Meet the Real Africa

Here are two of my favourite talks from the night:

Next Ignite Waterloo event is scheduled for March 3, 2010. I’ve been asked to present. Mark it on your calendar, and stay tuned.