Walls Optional: The 2008 DE Conference at Camosun College

Just wrapped up a planning meeting for our annual in house distributed education conference. Walls Optional: Promoting Excellence in Teaching and Learning through Technology is going to happen on May 6th at Camosun College. It’s a good opportunity for both our faculty and our department to showcase some of the work we have been doing in the past year, and setting the groundwork for the year to come.

I’m very happy that both Brian Lamb and Scott Leslie have agreed to present. The 2008 Horizon Project has caught the attention of some fairly high level administrators here, so it’s great to have someone like Scott here to speak directly to the report. And I’m very excited to meet Brian in person after having followed his work for the past few years.

I’ve got a space to present and am kicking around a couple of workshop ideas. Being more “Tech” than “Ed”, I’m leaning towards something hands on. I like the idea of doing a session on personal homepages and aggregation services (ala Netvibes or Pageflakes). Not only would many people find it useful to help organize their online life, but it would give me an opportunity to toss out a whole bunch of other technologies – blogs, RSS, podcasts, Flickr, widgets, delicious, and so on.

There is also a part of me that wants to do something around embed and how powerful and revolutionary I think that idea is.

But the session that will probably win out is the less than glamorous PowerPoint is Evil as a web content delivery tool. Judging from the number of PowerPoint presentations I see being posted online, I think this is something that will yield the biggest immediate bang for the buck. And I can still hang some Web 2.0 goodness onto this, showing off tools like Google Presentations and Slideshare.

So, if you were going to do a presentation to faculty about why they shouldn’t use PowerPoint on the web, what would you talk about? What alternatives are there to PowerPoint? Can you point me to any good resources? And, most importantly, should I use PowerPoint to do the presentation 🙂


Clint Lalonde

Just a guy writing some stuff, mostly for me these days on this particular blog. For my EdTech/OpenEd stuff, check out https://edtechfactotum.com/.


7 thoughts on “Walls Optional: The 2008 DE Conference at Camosun College

  1. Thanks for the link, Michael. I’ve never created an alternate stylesheet for projectors. This looks like fun.

  2. There’s also Eric Meyer’s S5.

    S5: A Simple Standards-Based Slide Show System

    S5 is a slide show format based entirely on XHTML, CSS, and JavaScript. With one file, you can run a complete slide show and have a printer-friendly version as well.

    The markup used for the slides is very simple, highly semantic, and completely accessible. Anyone with even a smidgen of familiarity with HTML or XHTML can look at the markup and figure out how to adapt it to their particular needs. Anyone familiar with CSS can create their own slide show theme. It’s totally simple, and it’s totally standards-driven.

  3. That Greasemonkey hack is great! It reminded me of a presentation I did using Word (don’t ask), adding & editing it on the fly. I had an audience member come up to me after & asked how I was able to edit my Powerpoint on the fly like that. Funny.

    I’m thinking of focusing the presentation more on alternatives to putting Powerpoint presentations online as opposed to not using PP in the class, which is a whole presentation unto itself – the effective use of PP for what it was intended to do.

    So I am going to focus first on why they should redo their content for the correct medium. This is going to be my main thrust.

    Barring that, if they absolutely must have their content in some form of classroom presentation format, what can they do to make that content more accessible when they post it online. What are some alternatives to simply posting the presentation on their website or in their LMS course?

  4. Hey Clint, looking forward to this, it should be fun. If Brian stays over, which I hope he will, maybe we can grab a beer or something.

    There are just so many alternatives to Powerpoint it is hard to know where to start. In some ways, you can look at cogdog’s “50 ways to tell a story” presentation as being all about alternatives to powerpoint.

    One of my favourites is the Greasemonkey wikipedia presentation script (http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/6372 but may need *slight* alteration with later version of wikipedia). Basically, it turns the headers of size 1 on any mediawiki page into individual slides and gives you “forward/back” navigation links at the top of the page. The beauty being that you have a wiki page (so can invite collaboration) that auto-magically turns into a presentation.

    Another really simple trick that I have seen Alan and Brian do effectively a number of times is simple to start a presentation with Firefox (or other tabbed browser) open with many tabs already opened, and simply change tabs to change “slides”. Obviously works best when it is web-based content you are talking about, but it is often a really elegant simple solution.

    Cheers, Scott

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