What’s the Opposite of Zen?

 

Clearing My Eyes

Photo Credit: MyTudut via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: MyTudut via Compfight cc

Coming from an early childhood background, I tend to gravitate toward lots of bright color. I loved it best when my classroom looked like it had thrown up rainbows everywhere, it was never too much! Now, I’m not saying all early childhood teachers are like me, this was just the type of teacher that I was. So, you can imagine that this week’s assignment was a little difficult for me. How could I pull myself back to be more ‘zen’ in my presentations when I loved the chaos of colors so much????

I decided I was going to take a presentation that I had done in Boston at the Building Learning Communities Conference and begin to revamp that. I watched the Zen Presentation video by Garr Reynolds, I watched Jeff’s video, then I stared at my presentation…*crickets*…

I had NO idea how to revamp it to make it more Zen because I had formatted it in such a way that it was organized by apps that I used in the classroom. Plus, at this stage, I wasn’t quite ready to give up my unwavering attachment to the rainbow. My early childhood ways, led me to believe that searching for photos for my presentations just wouldn’t look “fun” enough for me. My initial instinct was to then pull out my stylus and begin drawing some slides. I mean, wouldn’t that be the perfect way to still maintain my color and get the images I have in my head onto the slides? Here’s my first attempt. Needless to say, I liked it as an image, but wasn’t quite impressed with it as a slide. I thought it was probably going to be too hard to read and didn’t meet the assignment’s goals…not very zen at all.  Here is the before and after of this particular slide:

Screenshot 2014-09-26 19.05.50  Screenshot 2014-09-26 19.07.33

 

Unplugging…

Jeff recommended that we start completely offline, and I hadn’t done that yet. I went straight to my iPad and when that didn’t work I started playing with Haiku Deck to see if I was wrong about the photos. I was still confused so I watched those videos over and over again till I finally realized something…I wasn’t telling a story. Specifically, I wasn’t telling MY STORY. This then finally prompted me to unplug and think about why I had wanted to present on all those apps in the first place? What was it that I wanted to share? The simple ideas started to come to me, there was a reason why I liked each and every app, it wasn’t because of the app itself, but because of what it had helped my students to do to enhance their learning. So what were some of these things?

  • Capture thinking
  • Show learning
  • Create a Global Audience
  • Research/Collect information

There are other reasons but these were what I started with. So taking these key phrases, I realized, these were my slides. I didn’t need to include app logos and icons, as Garr Reynolds says, “Handouts can set you free”, I could place all this information in a seperate document to be shared later. All I needed were my ideas about why these apps were effective and share examples.

A Little of Everything

Using these phrases I started to envision slides in my head…very simple slides. I started understanding how I could search for photos that could illustrate these phrases and that would help support the ideas I would be talking about. When there were certain images that I already had in my head, I decided I would create those images myself.

Here is an example of one of the slides. I tried to fight my urges and not be afraid of empty spaces. I also tried out using black as my background, as suggested by Jeff, to push myself out of my comfort zone a little.

Screenshot 2014-09-26 21.00.54

For the words “Capture Thinking” I already had an image in my head, so I decided I would draw this one. With a little help from Canva.com, I was able to add the iPad into the image and create the black and white filter.  (P.S. Nicki Hambleton and all her wonderful visual notes were the inspiration behind this one! can you tell? :))

Screenshot 2014-09-26 21.08.31

Finally, just so I could still keep some of my bright colors and early childhood feel, I drew my own title page and again used Canva.com to help with some of the layout of the text on top of the background.

Screenshot 2014-09-26 21.12.03

I don’t know if I I will continue to rework this particular presentation, but I have a few presentations coming up so I may take what I’ve started and continue on to create something I can use. Hopefully this will be my final project! We shall see 🙂

10 thoughts on “What’s the Opposite of Zen?”

  1. Hi Pana

    I love the images you have created – I’m definitely a fan of the bold bright colours too. We often go searching for photos and graphics but we have easy-to-use software available to help us create exactly want we want. Nothing beats something you have crafted yourself!

    Pal

    • I am quite proud of the images that I drew, however, I decided after those two that drawing every slide would be a little bit too much work for me! Maybe over time as I create more images I may have more to piece together into a complete presentation. Glad that I am no alone in my love for bright colors! 🙂

  2. Pana, I love your revisions! They are beautiful and inspiring. It was great to read about how the Zen concepts resonated with you and how you translated them into your edits.

  3. Nicely designed post, very creative. I’ve ben following the work of Garr Reynolds, and Nancy Duarte who he cites as a source, for years as I teach presentations theory and skills myself. So I know all about the start offline advice for slideshows etc. However the people giving that advice are usually all older digital immigrants and used to technology having limitations when they started making presentations. Our students are younger digital natives and technology is now at a stage where they may not need to start offline as sketches can be done on tablets with stylus or fingers etc without paper and pencils being needed. So while I agree with the less is more approach I do not always start offline now. But again nice post.

    • Hi Rab! You make a great point about this generation of students being digital natives. It makes me feel a bit better about wanting to grab my stylus as first instinct, and then going to Haiku Deck as my second! This time around, using my stylus and iPad actually did help me to create something for my slides so I’m grateful that I followed my gut!

  4. Vision Statement

    Unlike other readers, I applaud your choice to work from ideas to tools. Think of the various ways we let our tools drive our actions, or limit them, the ways WE become enslaved to THEM, rather than freed by them, and you’ll see that your approach empowered you to put your tools to the best possible use.

    Starting with the tool carries the risk of its impinging on your vision of what’s possible: I’ll do this or that because it’s what the app can do. So-called outside-the-box thinking emerges from an imagination un-boxed in by the inevitable constraints any tools’ limitations will place on us.

    This sensibility applies to all tools, from hammers, to languages, to pianos, to tablets. All of these, and the mastery required to use them, inevitably influence our thinking and our actions–to the degree that we make a fetish of our tools and worship them, sublimating our innate capacities, which are infinite, to those of the tool at hand, which are not. But the more we form our vision of what we want to achieve in a realm apart from that defined by the means of achieving it, to that degree we will more fully express our unfettered creativity and fulfill that vision, breaking past the walls any tools necessarily place around the expressive impulse.

    It has been said that, to a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Likewise, to a presenter with a power point (and regrettably, to his or her audience, too) everything looks like a slide. (Consider that, since reading activates a part of the brain that makes it hard to take in what a speaker is saying, the more words you put before your audience’s eyes the less likely they are to use their ears to pay attention to you and deeply grasp your meaning.)

    But to a human being with a vision, freely formed in a wide open realm with only a welcoming sky to fly upwards into, everything looks like a possibility. For the starships of our dreams, there is no better launching pad!

    • Hi Bill, thanks for your detailed and thoughtful comment to my post! I have now presented using the zen principles of presentation and I have to say it was very hard. To try and remember all the key ideas I wanted to communicate on each slide was quite the challenge. Somehow I stumbled through it and I think I managed ok. Luckily I have a chance to edit and rework then represent this next month at the iPad Summit. This time around I think I will take more time to write my own personal notes more clearly, and I even think I want to take away more text from the presentation because honestly, it threw me off! Every time I saw words I felt like reading them rather than focusing on the story the slide was trying to tell.

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