Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Presentations to Total Strangers & Total Friends

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April is a funny month for me… 4 different venues to present in the space of one week!!!

I’ve been asked to do two presentations f2f to total strangers. One I did today at a corporate event to a local company that does international ed tech software; the other to the faculty of pharmacy at Cairo Univ (people I know nothing about)

In between these two, I have #et4online where I am co-presenting 5 different things with different groups of friends I have never met in person but whom I know intimately, and to audiences of people many of whom I know either closely or at least tangentially from twitter or such.

It’s such an interesting dichotomy for me. The virtual stuff is for people I know really well and won’t be able to touch physically. The f2f is for people I know very little  but was able to shake hands with (well, OK, I found ONE person I knew from before today).

Here’s the Haikudeck from today’s presentation (the audience was awesome but it took them a while to decide to engage with all my questions. It got kind of better when I just started calling on some people with the help of some of the more active ones; it also helped when I just sat on the stage):

for ITWorx Edu – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

I went out of my comfort zone today with this presentation. I didn’t have enough time to understand what I was getting myself into or what they wanted of me (and the person who got in touch with me to invite me to sort of “keynote” their event didn’t know much, either, and didn’t give me much feedback, so… I started by explaining how difficult it was to present when I didn’t know what they wanted, etc. – you can see it in the slides – and I used  lot of questions and invited a lot of discussion in the middle and more at the end – but especially had to ask women to speak up because they… weren’t. IT company and all that, I guess…). Anyway, I was thinking that this dilemma of presenting to people I don’t know is something kind of in the “complex” domain of the Cynefin framework…

I was watching the video shared by Sandra on #rhizo15 about the Cynefin framework of Snowden because I was planning to refer to it in my upcoming presentation in Cairo University… watch the video (if only to pronounce the framework name correctly; it is Welsh). It’s such a good framework. I wanted to summarize what I loved most about it:

  • He says there is a difference between a categorization framework where you categorize then put data; and a framework that is built from data.
  • I always love hearing about the differences between simple, complicated, complex and chaotic domains
  • It’s interesting it’s a framework developed for management decision-making, when for me, because of how Dave Cormier uses it, it is a great framework for education
  • Best practice applies to the simple domain; good practice applies to the complicated domain (so not one best solution; but different options with experts doing them) and complex domain has emergent practice (often developed after the fact, reflectively – sounds a lot like what we’re doing with the open learning recipe and cMOOCs in general).
  • The cliff between simple and chaotic – if we mistakenly assume things are too simple we’ll fall into chaotic
  • The key is not to treat all problems in the way we find ourselves comfortable treating them, but in the way most suitable for solving them. How cool is that? So (and Dave Cormier says this a lot) not EVERY educational problem is best treated rhizomatically; some things are simple and we should not complicate or complexify them unnecessarily; but some things are complex and we should not simplify them unnecessarily. Oh wow. That’s a good thing to remember!

Some things are simple and we should not complicate or complexify them unnecessarily; but some things are complex and we should not simplify them unnecessarily.

So here is how I was thinking of using the Cynefin framework for my second talk, on April 25 to the faculty of pharmacy (part of a conference): it’s about how the open web is transforming higher ed, and the framework helps I think in the sense that (emergent thoughts here):

  • the “simple” stuff, students can figure out on their own, we don’t really need to teach it; students can find online or in textbooks
  • the “complicated” stuff needs us to help teach analysis
  • the “complex” stuff needs us to help them reflect and learn from experience
  • not sure what to do with the “chaotic” to be honest… need to read some more 🙂

Here is my (in draft) Cairo University Haikudeck:


Open Education Transforming Lifelong Learning Maha Bali, PhD, AUC – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Strangely, even though my presentations about #tvsz and #rhizo14 (and a messy session and a women in ed tech session) for #et4online are about really complex THINGS, the presentations themselves were quite simple to do because these things are so familiar to me. Sure, I had tech issues uploading videos and stuff, but the actual content? That was what I do every day. Or a lot of the time, anyway. So… easy.

But the stuff for Cairo audiences? The broad presentation that’s supposed to inspire people TED style? Not me. Not something I do daily. But I think it went well today and I hope it goes well next week as well.

In the meantime… tonight we had our first #unet4online Twitter chat, and just as we were ending it, Rebecca and I did a quick hangout introducing the #et4buddy program… here it is:

I am happy I pushed myself to use Haikudeck. Terry Elliott’s been liking it for ages but I was pissed off at its restrictions and that the PPT you download isn’t editable. Then I read Michelle Pacansky-Brock’s post on making presentations beautiful and embraced the restrictions as affordances to help me make a more visually appealing thing (not my area of strength. at all; I usually go for plain with few pics, which is weird coz I am an artistic person in general; just not visually inclined; text is just fine by me). Michael Berman’s post on PowerPoint Zombies also had me thinking… mainly about how presenting to total strangers was such a huge challenge, when I much prefer getting to know people beforehand… ah well, it’s good to have a mix of different presentation things 🙂

3 Comments

  1. I was trying to remember where I saw/heard a nice breakdown of Best Practice vs Good Practice. Now I remember (and I like emergent practice, I sometimes feel I spend most of my day in emergent practice.)

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