Online and Digital Learning

Durbbu 2016 – Solution to Perennial Presentation Problems

This is a  quick summary of a case study at Durham University presented by Elaine Tan at #durbbu 2016, utilising the institutional video platform to support formative feedback on student presentations.

There is a common problem on degree programmes: the student presentation. It’s a problem because too often students are expected to undertake presentations without appropriate guidance. Whilst the ‘presentation on presentations’ (I’ve done these myself) is at least a first-step in offering guidance, there is nothing that beats experience in helping students develop their presentation skills. Not least because it’s not just the content you have to worry about, but the way it’s physically presented too. Tan reported back on using their institutional video platform, Kaltura, as a quick way to make recordings of students available to them as part of a formative presentation practice exercise. The use of the institutional platform for managing this is a quick win that enables efficient and controlled sharing, facilitating a real learning benefit to students.

Students had to create and present, for no more than a couple of minutes, on any topic they wished. These presentations were in small groups, with peer-feedback provided by other students. Instead of a lecture, these workshop sessions were chaired by an academic, who did not mark the work as it was found in a previous trial the peer feedback covered the salient points. Presentations were recorded by another member of staff who then uploaded the video and shared it with the student. Presenting surfaced nerves, technical issues, audience interactions etc that can only be learnt from through experience, and the feedback offered enabled students to go into their summative presentations from a more confident base. One of the challenges that I think still remains is the balance between performance and academic content. Honing the presentation skills to TED talk level also runs the risk that the academic assessment criteria are forgotten about. When’s the last time you saw a TED talk with a slide of references at the end? In this way, the two minute presentation won’t give students the full feedback needed for their summative presentation, but does provide an efficient way of individualising presentation skills development for large cohorts.

Video capture of presentations, particularly as a formative approach, enables reflection on the feedback and performance. Whilst amongst participants in this session there was consensus that watching yourself is a cringeworthy activity, the usefulness of self-observation to learn from your mistakes and further what you did well is obvious. I would like to support this type of activity further at York, so if you include student presentations in your programme, do get in touch.

Durham Blackboard Users Conference 2016

Paper: Developing Presentation Skills in Third Year Chemistry Undergraduates: A Blended Approach Utilising the VLE, Recorded Video and Student Feedback – Jacquie Robson, Elaine Tan  (Durham University).

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