5 Questions with Dr. Daniel Lowenstein

In the previous post, we were introduced to Dr. Daniel Lowenstein and his “Last Lecture” presentation, which was both powerful and inspiring. Shortly after writing the post, Dr. Lowenstein contacted me, and we had an interesting discussion about his experience preparing for, and delivering that presentation.

I have always wanted to incorporate the voices of the instructors, students, and staff at UCSF, who work in the trenches and present or attend presentations on a daily basis. This post marks the beginning of a new series that will feature interviews of those people. I hope you enjoy the first episode of “5 Questions!”

5 Questions with Dr. Lowenstein
Bonus track: The Basement People

The full version of the original presentation has recently been uploaded to the UCSF Public Relations YouTube channel, so please head over there to watch the video, like it, and leave your comments!

last lecture youtube

If you have any ideas about who the next 5 Questions interviewee should be, please contact me or leave your ideas in the comments section below.

Top 10 Moments from “Confessions of a Converted Lecturer”

I stumbled upon a real gem this week, thanks to the Presentation Zen master himself, Garr Reynolds. The gem is a recorded lecture given by Harvard physicist, Eric Mazur, titled “Confessions of a Converted Lecturer.” He describes the trials and tribulations that he went through while trying to be come the best lecturer, and teacher, that he could be. This is a man who truly cares about student learning. In my opinion, he absolutely crushes this one out of ball park and deep into McCovey Cove.

(Click here to cheat, and access the abridged version.)

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PowerPoint-Induced Trends in Higher Ed

eBay Time MachineIf you want to be a well respected blogger with a contingent of loyal followers, you need to be entertaining and relevant, and you also need to back up your posts with legitimate data and references. Taking my own advice, and not to be outdone by my peers, I decided to do some serious research for this post. I wanted to find proof that PowerPoint is the driving force behind a number of trends in higher education… trends that adversely affects a student’s ability to learn. So naturally, I bought a time machine on eBay, and traveled 50 years into the future to witness the results of these trends with my own eyes. What I saw was frightening, yet predictable. Here is an excerpt from my time travel journal:

March 6, 2063 ~ Textbooks are officially dead, and word on the street is that they were killed off systematically and without mercy by well-placed PowerPoint bullet points and stylish clip art. Student are building bonfires Ray Bradbury style. White board markers are outlawed in universities across the nation, and instructors are required to use government-issued PowerPoint templates and laser pointers when lecturing. I have been hiding out with a small contingent of outcasts who call themselves Citizens Against PowerPoint Abuse (CAPPA for short). They organize regular demonstrations against PowerPoint and advocate for a return to the good ‘ol days of group projects and learning games. In their eyes, the world is coming to end, and on the day of reckoning, it will look like this:

PowerPoint template slidesBut seriously folks [insert laugh track], it is 2013 and PowerPoint is already changing the way instructors teach and students learn. Some of these trends are good, but many are not. In this post, I’d like to highlight a few of the more prominent trends, and then pose a few ideas for reversing them… before it’s too late! Continue reading

The 20 Minute Rule (for Presentations)

As presenters, we worry a great deal about how long our presentation should be. When the length of the presentation is determined for us, we worry about how many slides the presentation should contain. We worry about presenting too much information, and we worry about not presenting enough information. We worry a lot. And in many cases, we worry about the wrong things.

Is there a correlation between the number of slides in a presentation, the time spent delivering a presentation, and the presentation’s overall effectiveness? Or does it all depend on the content and the situation? Are there timing guidelines that we can follow?

Actually, there are! Continue reading

Your Lecture is Boring (pt 1)

What happens when you give college students the opportunity to share what they really think about their instructor’s lectures? Well, this may come as no surprise, but you tend to get answers like this, “I feel that the majority of my lectures are boring, and the inspiring lectures are in the minority.” The Chronicle of Higher Education asked students these questions, as part of their Lecture Fail project. Here is a highlight video of the responses they received:

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