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Monday, October 23, 2006

Personal Publishing - Balance of Blog vs. PPT+Audio – Help Needed

I received a comment from Jesse Ezell that brings up an issue that I’ve been grappling with and I would love to get some input (comments) from everyone who reads this blog. Jesse saw a post where I pointed to slides from a recent presentation and he commented:

A PPT slide deck is a horrible way to convey anything significant. How about a link to audio, or better yet something like an Articulate Presenter or Breeze presentation that combines the audio and the slide deck? I would very much be interested in what you had to say in your presentation, but a PDF of the slide deck doesn’t do much for me.
I can completely understand his sentiment. How many times have I told someone that emailing around a PowerPoint slide deck to the sales people doesn’t constitute training. Yet, here I am posting my slides. Why am I willing to do that? The short answer is because the content already exists in that form and I’d like to leverage what I’m already doing – which is not unlike what we all face. But let’s drill down on this a bit.

Before I get too far, let me express a personal bias, shortcoming, style, or whatever you want to call it that has a big impact on how I decide to spend my time when I'm creating content:


I’m far too impatient to sit through an audio (MP3 or embedded) that goes along with a presentation deck.
The amount of content transfer vs. the time it takes is just too long. I also have a hard time sitting in a meeting, classroom or any other venue where I feel the pace is too slow. Having had to sit through a recent back-to-school night where the teachers were basically reading you what was in the notes was almost too painful to bear. Where’s the fast forward button like I’m now used to doing on TV shows? And before you tell me that with some presentations you can jump around, I know that and I use those controls when available, its still just that normally unless I’m extremely interested in a topic or it’s a particularly engaging presenter:


I’m more interested in written words that I can scan and drill-down on much more quickly.
As an example, take a look at Masie’s recent piece. While I think this is pretty good, I’d rather have had it written out for quick skimming and drill down – Is he going to say anything interesting on this topic? I skim, then I read in detail once I find some interesting stuff. Hard to do in audio. But several people mentioned in the blog world that they liked Masie's piece. Similarly, several people mentioned that they liked going through my presentation on What's Next in eLearning for ASTD Los Angeles even though you likely would need to have Interwise to be able to go through it.

Now don’t get me wrong, I do like in-person exchanges on particular topics so that through Q&A you can find out what you want. Of course, I tend to be a person who is happy asking questions so that I drill down on topics that I find interesting. It’s almost the same as my reading style:
    • skimming = initial discourse
    • drill down = Q&A

So finally, let me get to the question … I’m creating content on topics all the time. Around the general topic of What’s Next in eLearning (or eLearning 2.0), I’ve created three presentations (one of which is recorded), written lots of blog posts, written an article (coming soon) and had lots of discussions. I have limited time to spend. So, my questions are:

  1. Given my content and my limited time, how should I choose my medium to provide the best value to people reading my blog?
  2. Do others share my bias about PPT + Audio value vs. written word?
  3. Should I personally spend more time recording audio that goes with presentation materials?

I’d would welcome any thoughts that folks have on this topic.

And this is especially timely for me, since I'm going to be making choices around it as I begin to pull together content for ASTD TechKnowledge and my blog on the topic of blogging and social bookmarking.

13 comments:

Jesse Ezell said...

Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting that you should do the presentation over with a USB mic and create additional content. I think that if you gave the presentation already, you should get a hold of the audio and then either link that or just listen to it and add some timings then publish with something like AP. Microsoft has been making its presentations from TechEd available afterward (https://www.msteched.com/content/webcasts.aspx). This is a great resource that has an excellent ratio of cost to quality.

The answer to your final set of questions though is 4: You should start a podcast. If you like the simple discourse and then drilling down with Q&A, I think you would make an excellent Podcast host. IMO, we are sorely in need of a good Podcast on eLearning. I was excited when I came across the Bogg's one (http://boggse-learningchronicle.typepad.com/) until I actually listened to it and it was like a scripted commercial for his company rather than useful interviews with various players in the eLearning space like it should be.

Tony Karrer said...

Jesse - I don't have the audio for that presentation (it was live). I agree that if I had it, I would make it available. So, I think we are pretty inline on that.

Your idea about podcasts for Q&A is interesting. I really enjoy moderating panels to get various perspectives. Maybe something like that would be interesting. But, if it were out there, I'm not sure I'd sit through it. Curious reaction, eh?

Jim Belshaw said...

Tony, I struggled a little with this one in part because I am such a technological ignoramus when it comes to some things.

For what it's worth, you might like to consider the following.

First, back the blog up with a more conventional web site. This then becomes the holding device for longer term and more complex material in both HTML and other formats. When you do so, put it in a way that it can be cited.

Secondly, there is something to be said for including different forms of material on the blog. However, you are right about Maisie's piece. It's good, I listened to bits, but I also did not have enough time to listen to the whole thing. So we have your time on one side, your reader/listener/viewer time on the other.

I thought that Jesse's comment re podcasts was helpful.

Tony Karrer said...

Jim - good suggestion on backing up the blog with a web site. I'll have to think about what goes on that. I'll probably look at folks like George Siemens and how he does the split. Definitely, the web site needs to be something that holds content that changes less frequently.

I appreciate that you had a similar experience with Masie's piece. I think he did a quite good job, but how can you make someone like me happy when I only want to skim and dive.

Jesse Ezell said...

If you look at what a lot of successful podcasts are doing TWiT, .NET Rocks, Scoble Show, Channel 9, On10, etc. they are all about Q&A. It sounds like that's your thing, so you should give it a shot and see if you like it.

It's really easy to do lo-tech over something like Skype with a simple call recording add-in. All you have to do is get some interesting people to talk to, which shouldn't be hard.

I'm really surprised no one like Masie or Brandon Hall has started their own podcast yet. It's such a great way to communicate... in many ways better than a blog, because not only do you get inflection, tone, and real conversation, but you can also listen to it while you work or drive around town.

Lee said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lee said...

Tony, I have started to lean toward providing content in as many formats as economically possible and allowing the learner to decide how to curve it up. To your example, I love podcasts, I live in a rural area and have to commute to work. This is a great time for me to listen to a wealth of quality content. I also like skimming content online, pulling what I need and moving on. So, post the powerpoint file, post the audio mp3, post them together in Captivate, and then blog a summary of the content (if you have time or if the content is that important).

To this end I asked Silke of Captivate to incorporate an export all audio as an mp3 file, but I don't think they have done this.

Joitske Hulsebosch said...

Some form of answer too at:
http://joitskehulsebosch.blogspot.com/2006/10/technology-slide-show-by-nancy-white.html

Tony Karrer said...

Joitske - Interesting to see the slide share (slides only) - not sure it's much better than PPT or PDF. Your comment about:

"I can watch vodcasts, but have problems with audio too. My thoughts just wander off. I'll do a test by downloading and listening in the train tomorrow."

was interesting. I'm not sure about vodcasts for myself - I don't have enough experiences to comment on it. I'm thinking that if I had roughly a transcript so that I could listen/watch the parts that interest me - maybe that would make me happier.

By the way, about a month ago I listened to pieces of Nancy White's presentation on blogs as community. That was a good use of time. Funny that you would point to her slides.

Shifting Semiosis said...

In my Oral Rhetoric course we are dealing with some of these questions. Personally, I like to scan and dig rather than listen. However, the discussion in class has repeatedly revealed that there are different preferences for different people. And for some who are dyslexic, listening is much better. So we are lucky to have the multi-platform web ;->

Another point, we learn/perceive different information from different media. I asked my class to go to http://www.voanews.com/specialenglish
/archive/2003-03/a-2003-03-27-3-1.cfm
I asked them to read first, then listen. When they posted (in a Community Blog in Elgg)on their two experiences of the same words, it became clear that different information comes in on different (media) channels. So the kind of information you want to process influences your meida prefences, IMHO

Darius said...

Intense, simple, active demonstrations

Sounds like you would be interested in Jon Udell's blog on Monday 10/23/06.
http://weblog.infoworld.com/udell/2006/10/23.html#a1549

"I'm starting to see more people catching on to the idea of embedding small screencasts directly into web pages. In this blog entry, for example, Pascal van Hecke uses the technique to illustrate a nice recipe for organizing what he calls loose MP3s -- that is, MP3 files that are linked from web pages you visit...."

Check his other blog entries relating to audio editing & distribution, video editing & distribution, and social networking sites.

Darius said...

Sounds like you want presentations to be Quicktime movies with hotspots to click ahead to the next slide. You also want an introductory overview at the front with a sentence or two about each slide with a hotspot to click to the position in the movie with the detail about the slide, then repeat the slides all the way through with the more detail. Easy to distribute as a single file.

Jonathan Boutelle said...

Why not upload the slides to slideshare.net, upload the audio to odeo or another podcasting host, and then put both embeds in your blog?

You get the audio and the slides that way, and all the hosting is free.