Aug 06

SPREAD YOUR KNOWLEDGE! (Part VI) ‘Make a PRESTO’ by Heike Philp

A call for presenters to PREsent your TOpic with 10 slides auto-advancing every 20 seconds (total of 3min 20sec) went out to experienced ESL and EFL presenters, language learning experts and language learning technologists a mere six weeks ago. How did this speedy presentation technique came about? Why so short and who is invited to present?

Inspired by Pecha Kucha (20×20)

Pecha Kucha was the first of these speedy presentation techniques and it originated in Japan in 2003 by Klein/ Dytham, an architect couple who at that time faced the challenge that there were very few venues or events available to present their architectural work.

With 8 to 14 presentations per evening, Pecha Kucha nights quickly became known to be lively, trendy and excitable shows of artists and photographers, outsiders and insiders, journalists and scientists and abounded with crispy information nuggets. Turning hugely popular and viral and without a dime spent on advertisement, Pecha Kucha nights are now held in nearly 100 countries around the globe as a beloved speedy presentation format, proving to be the ideal recipe to combat bullet points.

A great example of such a lively event is the recording of the Pecha Kucha night at IATEFL in Cardiff this year with a series of fabulous presentations. The most fascinating one of all is the first one with not only 20 slides, not only 20 seconds per slide but even 20 presenters (!) by Second Life tenants of EduNation, organised by Gavin Dudeney. Hats off for this performance. So much fun to watch.

Adapted by Ignite (20×15)

Web technology publisher Tim O’Reilly (who coined the expression Web 2.0) got equally excited only to find that the very format is patented. Imagine this, how can one patent ’20 slides auto-advancing every 20 seconds’? Not only copyright protected but even patented. Hence O’Reilly thought to adapt this format to 20 slides auto-advancing every 15 seconds and called for presenters to present in a mere 5min. Challenging indeed.

They called it Ignite and ignite it did in 2006. On the Ignite YouTube channel we can enjoy the first recorded live presentations. Equally fast, Ignite events spread around the globe.

An Ignite highlight is this fabulous presentation of a research project by Molly Write Steenson into Paris’ tube system to deliver mail from around turn of the 19th/20th century. What an example of great informational value, ‘Ancient Twitter’ in 5min. Enjoy.

But if this isn’t short enough, why Presto 10×20?

Pecha Kucha consists of 20 slides and Presto 10×20 is simply half the amount of slides – not half the amount of time per slide. (We tried that too, and this truly is too fast).

In fact, many of us tried Pecha Kucha presentations and here is a fabulous set of 10 Pecha Kuchas at the WIACO Conference in May 2009. Wonderfully colorful, great content, fun to watch. Personally I believe that this format is still the best for live conference presentations.

What all of us found out in the process though, that a Pecha Kucha presentation is really, really hard to do. In fact, it is so difficult that even experienced speakers struggled.

My own first Pecha Kucha took me more than 6 hours to rehearse and in the end I was so nerve-wrecked that I even wrote down the whole presentation only to read it off the script. And I am never write down my speeches.

We also wanted to create a great free-speaking presentation exercise for our language learners and not kill them in the process.

Hence, the Presto 10×20 format kind of lent itself and it even holds a great plus: Presto 10×20 is great for recordings and ideal for YouTube.

The advantages of recordings are..

  • our language learners can listen to themselves (an exercise every presenter should do too)
  • the viewers can stop and start the presentation whenever they like and look at the slides in detail
  • it can be edited and whilst it can not be cut because of the timing, the ‘hums and haws’ can always be silenced
  • it can be redone until the presenter gets it right
  • no audience, no stress, no stage fright
  • great feed-back from peer
  • great insight analysis by YouTube as to the whereabouts of the viewers and how they found out about this video

One question still remains. Is Presto 10×20 not too short?

Judge for yourself and let us know what you think when you see the first two Presto presentations by W’ and Burcu herself.

The first two courageous ones

Wlodzimierz Sobkowiak was the first. Wlodzimierz, known as W’ in real life or Wlodek in Second Life, gave this fabulous presentation about Phonetic affordance of Second Life for EFL.

And Burcu was the second courageous test driver with her well-rehearsed presentation about her work with class blogs, a presentation that fetched more then 110 views in a mere 10 days on our channel.

How many views did you get, Burcu on your own blog post?

W’ and Burcu did a fabulous job and yet they are English teachers and experienced presenters.

Can you see your language learners try this out? This week, one of our new trainees of the LANCELOT course, Sylvia who teaches at International House in Mexico will try to create a Presto10x20 with her nephew who sells Xango.

We are all excited. Are you?

heike-philpHeike Philp is founder and managing director of LANCELOT School GmbH, an accredited training center for language trainers in the use of state-of-the-art virtual classroom technology. With over 20 years in education and several years of teaching German in Japan and the UK, Heike took on the live online challenge by starting a virtual language school and her experience subsequently led her to co-initiate the European funded LANCELOT project. The LANCELOT project (www.lancelot.at) saw 23 partners in 8 countries jointly developing a train-the-trainer course for language teachers. Heike’s enthusiasm for synchronous Internet communication also led her to co-initiate yet another European funded project: AVALON. AVALON stands for Access to Virtual and Action Learning live Online and is about language learning in Second Life and started in January 2009 with a consortium of 26 European partners, 11 of which are Universities.


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  1. shellterrell

    Great post! Can’t wait to try it! These are excellent examples of the possibilities with this program. I think the pronunciation objects in Second Life are really interesting and can’t wait to explore this. Burcu always gives great presentations and I enjoyed this the first time I saw the presentation.

  2. Heike Philp

    Hi Shelly,

    Looking forward to your Presto. Will it be about Twitter or about your poetry?

    A couple of others are in the making right now and I am really looking forward to them, but – psst – this will be a suprise.

    I am utmost thankful to the courageous first ones who dare to test this out because I can foresee great potential for conferences.

    My personal hopes are that we will see brief product presentations about tools such as learning software, webservices, plattforms, vocabulary trainers, online language tests etc.

    I also hope we see presentations about teaching and learning methodology such as for example an explanation about suggestopedy, game based learning, story telling, webquests, NY Times lesson plans, multiple intelligences, different learner types, NLP programming, connectivism, collaboration, communities,etc.

    I am also looking forward to hearing about intercultural issues such as cultural briefings of various countries, learning behaviour of people, travel insights, sightseeing, food, language courses, people, cities etc.

    Ah, there is so much to learn, would it not be wonderful to hear of each of these topics a brief presto by a subject matter expert (SME), someone whom I can ask further questions about the subject if the subject interests me?

    I am very much looking forward to these information nuggets.

    Hopefully then also one day, we might even feel free to ask certain people for a presto on their product or service or research subject, hobby, passion or similar just as I am doing it right now.

    For example, the other day, I talked to a ‘not so known’ company and they explained about their product which is an online language evalution test system.

    For less than 20 EUR per test it provides an online multiple choice test which gets progressively more difficult so as to determine the language skill level. Then this initial written assessment is followed by a 10min phone interview with an examiner and in the end of the day, the learner gets a clearance on whether he or she is at A2 level for example.

    This test is performed by a testing center and it provides an excellent system for freelance teachers to provide to their students a proper evaluation test with a stamp.

    This test can be performed in intervals, say for example every year of an extrensic course so that the students see their progress.

    I really like this a great testing system and I asked them to do a Presto10x20 for us, so that I can share this recording with our network of teachers.

    Whom else can you think of?

  3. Vance Stevens

    Hi, thanks for the invitation. I have viewed Heike’s model PresTo and find the idea interesting and challenging. I’ll go for it, but give me some time to reflect and decide what I want to say in 6 plus minutes 😉 Vance

  4. Heike Philp

    Hi Vance,

    It’s actually 3min 20sec only, now if that is not challenging.

    Rgds Heike

  5. Gavin Dudeney

    Just a little note – the SL PK at IATEFL was organised by Kyle Mawer, not me!


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