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Casteleyn & Mottart Slidecast Yourself New Presentation Tool

Casteleyn & Mottart Slidecast Yourself New Presentation Tool

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Published by Jordi Casteleyn
Many educational theorists stress the importance of social aspects for effective learning. In ‘communities of practice’ for instance, groups of practitioners might learn from each other and eventually constitute a shared identity. Web 2.0 provides an ideal opportunity for this. An example of such a Web 2.0 information technology is slidecasting, which can be described as podcasting by synchronizing PowerPoint and voice. Anyone can upload their slidecasts to a website with an interface similar to YouTube, and anybody can watch these products. However, there is limited research on this topic, its possible application in education and its popularity in businesses. We therefore studied the educational implications of introducing slidecasting in the classroom, sent a survey to our students to detect their attitude towards this new teaching tool, and organised a focus group with communication professionals. We can conclude that slidecasting can be successful in education, but that it will not immediately gain access to the corporate world due to problems concerning confidentiality and the very nature of slidecasting.
Many educational theorists stress the importance of social aspects for effective learning. In ‘communities of practice’ for instance, groups of practitioners might learn from each other and eventually constitute a shared identity. Web 2.0 provides an ideal opportunity for this. An example of such a Web 2.0 information technology is slidecasting, which can be described as podcasting by synchronizing PowerPoint and voice. Anyone can upload their slidecasts to a website with an interface similar to YouTube, and anybody can watch these products. However, there is limited research on this topic, its possible application in education and its popularity in businesses. We therefore studied the educational implications of introducing slidecasting in the classroom, sent a survey to our students to detect their attitude towards this new teaching tool, and organised a focus group with communication professionals. We can conclude that slidecasting can be successful in education, but that it will not immediately gain access to the corporate world due to problems concerning confidentiality and the very nature of slidecasting.

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Published by: Jordi Casteleyn on Jun 20, 2012
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Source: Casteleyn, J. & Mottart A. (2010). Slidecast yourself. Exploring the possibilities of a new online presentation tool,
 International Professional Communication Conference Proceedings 2010,
255-261.
Slidecast Yourself – Exploring the possibilities of a new presentation tool
Jordi Casteleyn & André Mottart
Many educational theorists stress the importance of social aspects for effective learning. In ‘communities ofpractice’ for instance, groups of practitioners might learn from each other and eventually constitute a sharedidentity. Web 2.0 provides an ideal opportunity for this. An example of such a Web 2.0 information technologyis slidecasting, which can be described as podcasting by synchronizing PowerPoint and voice. Anyone canupload their slidecasts to a website with an interface similar to YouTube, and anybody can watch theseproducts. However, there is limited research on this topic, its possible application in education and itspopularity in businesses. We therefore studied the educational implications of introducing slidecasting in theclassroom, sent a survey to our students to detect their attitude towards this new teaching tool, and organiseda focus group with communication professionals. We can conclude that slidecasting can be successful ineducation, but that it will not immediately gain access to the corporate world due to problems concerningconfidentiality and the very nature of slidecasting.Keywords: slidecasting, Web 2.0, education, presentations.
Source: Casteleyn, J. & Mottart A. (2010). Slidecast yourself. Exploring the possibilities of a new online presentation tool, International Professional Communication Conference Proceedings 2010,255-261.
 
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1. Web 2.0 as a ‘community of practice’
A recurring challenge for technical communication educators is to produce real-life assignments, as thesituated learning theory stresses that the learning process will improve if the students are confronted withauthentic and/or realistic learning environments [1, p. 306]. Moreover, certain educational theorists, forinstance Tripp [2, p. 306], argue that this environment should also be interpreted as a social context. In these‘communities of practice’ (a term coined by Lave and Wenger [3]) it should be possible for students tocollaborate with experts, support each other and eventually develop their personal and professional identity.On his personal website, Etienne Wenger [4] describes these ‘communities of practice’ as “groups of peoplewho share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interactregularly”, and lists three crucial characteristics. First, these communities constitute an identity that is definedby a shared domain of interest. This shared competence separates the members of a community from otherpeople. Second, the notion of ‘community’ implies that people interact with each other, learn from each otherand eventually build relationships with each other. Finally, the second part of the term ‘community of practice’is also essential. The members of such a community are practitioners and develop a common framework thatevery member draws upon or refers to.If we define Web 2.0 as the “more open, personalized, participative and social version” [5] of the formerWeb, then it can be the virtual equivalent of these ‘communities of practice.’ For instance, the business-oriented website LinkedIn is aimed at building networks with contacts who have similar job positions, andencourages exchanging information among members of these professional groups, which can lead to a sharedknowledge of business practices. Of course, this view upon Web 2.0 as a ‘community of practice’ could also befruitful for education and could increase the efficiency of existing learning practices. Some educators areperhaps apprehensive of Web 2.0 because it is “simply too provisional, unpredictable and uncontrollable to bemarshaled for traditional learning” [5]. This paper will try to counter these assumptions by providing extrainformation about the implementation of this social software.
2. Slidecasting as a ‘Web 2.0 community of practice’
A less-known example of such a Web 2.0 teaching tool is slidecasting, which could be described aspodcasting by synchronising PowerPoint and voice. Previously, this technology was mainly used by educatorsin e-lectures, but since mid 2007 websites like SlideShare (www.slideshare.net) have made the productionprocess much more user-friendly, which has broadened its use to professionals and students. The softwareneeded to create such a slidecast can be found on the average computer, and almost every type of file used asvisual aids for a presentation is supported by the website. The slidecast itself can also be forwarded, pausedand stopped at any time.Furthermore, these websites have become a real-life online community of practice. These ‘virtualpresentations’ can be freely accessed, and the user interface enables showing appreciation for a slidecast,commenting on it, befriending the producer of it, etc. By tagging your slidecast with several keywords andchoosing a category it belongs to, you deliberately place yourself in a community of practice where memberscall on similar knowledge, but of course, the final success of such a community depends on the quantity andquality of the contributions of its members.
3. Researching slidecasting
Although there is a treasury grove of information on presentations, the published research on slidecastingfocuses primarily on e-learning. Griffin, Mitchell & Thompson [6] give empirical evidence that “synchronizedaudio and video are more effective than the provision of separate media items containing the sameinformation”. However, they fail to mention more details about this new genre, nor do they refer to slidecastingby students. Moreover, the identity issue is not extensively covered by academic literature, although recentresearch (for example Casteleyn et al. [7]) has indicated that this aspect takes a central position in Web 2.0products and their interpretation. The performance and construction of identity online are ultimately a socialphenomenon, which shows the relationship between Web 2.0 and communities of practice.Furthermore, slidecasting might also provide pedagogical benefits. Research by Mottart and Casteleyn hintsat this [8], but there is little empirical evidence. Finally, perceptions of students about e-lectures are mostly
 
3quite positive, and despite the mixed results from earlier research it could also be proven that it provides aneducational advantage [Cramer, Collins, Snider, and Fawcett in: 9]. On the other hand, although botheducators and students are willing to use the full potential of social software, internet for educational purposesmostly still seems to be limited to searching information and communication. [10] In addition, research byBurke and James [11] seems to suggest that a new teaching technology is positively regarded when studentsperceive it as novel, but no data can be found about student attitudes towards producing slidecaststhemselves.Based on this literature overview, this paper will concentrate on three topics:
§
 
The slidecast as a teaching tool: What are its possible pedagogical benefits? How could the onlinecommunity of practice affect the performance of the students?
§
 
Students’ attitude towards slidecasting: How do students perceive this?
§
 
The slidecast as an emerging genre: Which distinctive features do professional communicators attributeto it?Within the framework of a communication course, we asked 89 undergraduate students of informatics(Ghent University, Belgium) to produce a slidecast, which was the final assignment of their presentation skillstraining. The participants had to post the internet link of their slidecast on a forum of the university’s onlinelearning environment, which made it available to all students and which should convey the idea of a communityof practice to the students.
4. The responses from the educators
The undisputable use of slidecasting for education is of course for the teaching of presentation skills. Atalmost any stage in the process of the training of presentation skills this new teaching tool might prove itssuccess. By bringing the real world into the classroom it could be seen as the culmination of a communicationcourse, or it might be an appealing online environment in which students can give feedback to their peers,before they have to perform in front of the total group. In addition to this, slidecasting answers a two-facedphenomenon that is challenging today’s education: personalisation and globalisation. Because you hear thespeaker’s voice, the slidecast is individualized in a way that many other teaching practices are not capable of.Slidecasting is also happening in an authentic digital environment, which is open to the whole world. Thestudents’ products can be viewed by other students from different countries, business professionals, or justrandom people who get intrigued by the content of the slidecast.At this moment it is important to introduce the theory of Kenneth Burke (1897-1993). Summarising thetheoretical framework he developed cannot be restricted to a single paragraph, but here we only want to focuson the theme of identification he explored. According to Burke, identification plays a central role in rhetoric, andconsequently in life itself. “Individuals form selves or identities through various properties or substances, whichinclude such things as physical objects, occupations, friends, activities, beliefs and values. As they allythemselves with various properties or substances, they share substance with whatever or whomever theyassociate and simultaneously separate themselves from others whom they choose not to identify.” [12, p.69]When Burke formulated this in 1950, some might have discarded his thinking, but Web 2.0 has proven thevitality of this theory. The profiles on social network websites are carefully constructed tokens of identity: youassociate yourself with what you like and detach yourself from what you dislike. The users from these websitesare also well aware that the readers of their profile will interpret their actions accordingly. “Performing an actionin Facebook could therefore be compared to acting on a stage.” [7]Slidecasting embodies all these features of identification. The website will automatically link the students’slidecasts to other content-related ‘siblings’. The students can edit their profile to their preferences, and theycan show their appreciation for a certain slidecast by favouriting it. By doing so they deliberately removethemselves from other (types of) slidecasts. As they fully realize that there is a (possibly unknown) audiencewatching their product and their profile, this process of identification is strenghtened. As a result, a Web 2.0environment, and slidecasting in particular, will intensify the commitment of the student to the course.Friendlander and Macdougall already demonstrated that this student involvement is a key factor in studentsuccess. [13] One of their proposed strategies for increasing student involvement in learning included“increasing student participation in out-of class learning activities by linking those activities to specific course

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