Rules To Live By

4/11/2009 11:23:00 am

I've become more and more interested in visual design as it pertains to teaching. I see a lot of teachers new to using a SMARTboard creating long, text heavy slides in their lessons. For myself, I've started a collection of feeds in my reader called Visual Thinking and it's had a dramatic impact on my own slide design process.

If you watch TED Talks you may have noticed that the visuals used by speakers at this years conference are qualitatively superior to those used in the past. TED has hired Duarte Design and assigned each speaker a small stipend to have their visuals given a makeover by the folks at Duarte. You can really see it in the visuals used in these two talks:

Barry Schwartz: The real crisis? We stopped being wise

Here's the backstory to Barry's slide makeover.

Bruce Bueno de Masquita: Three predictions on the future of Iran, and the math to back it up

Here's the back story to Bruce's slide makeover. (Seems to be offline; wonder what happened? Here's the Google Cache of the page. You can also find it on my Shared Items page.)

The post ends with this:

Rules We Live By

  » Break apart big ideas into smaller bite-sized pieces.
  » Simplify the message (even when you’re talking about using game theory to predict the future!)
  » Give a message space to stand out and contrast to focus attention.
  » Use more visuals and less words.
  » Use clear, easy-to-read charts with simple shapes and colors to add texture and clarity.

If you're new to using an Interactive White Board (IWB) in your class I think this is an excellent list to use as a starting point for slide design. When designing slides for classroom instruction these are the ideas I use as guidelines. I'm working hard at evolving how I present information to my students daily. Particularly when teaching more conceptually difficult material.

This is how I introduced statistics the first time with the SMARTboard:

This is how I did it this year:

There's still lots of room for improvement in that second set of slides above. I'd genuinely appreciate any suggestions you may have about improving this particular slide deck or my approach in general. Can you suggest a specific image that might fit nicely into this lesson?

I'm going to keep trying to increase my use of visual images and since SlideShare added the ability to embed YouTube videos in each slideshow I've been trying to have at least one instructional video inserted into every day's set of slides.

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  2. I concur with the propositions made here. As more and more educators are beginning to open up to the idea that different learning styles are held by the student population, finding teaching styles to compliment those styles is pivotal. As was stated here, visual learning is quite important to students as it allows for information to be presented in a less abstract manner most of the time. The traditional educational model of focusing on memorization of information from books is still not completely nullified, however, the evidence regarding the effectiveness of visual additions to a teaching plan is becoming impossible to ignore.