Katherine Komis | Google Drive

Last Fall Professor Katherine Komis (English Department) asked her English Composition students to be innovative. She asked them to develop a presentation but use alternative software (something other than PowerPoint). While PowerPoint is often useful, it is not as flexible as some of the newer presentation tools.

As a part of this project Komis grouped students to give them more flexibility and required them to use cloud-based organizational strategies, because it would allow students a means of developing a portfolio, for future employers. She felt that students needed to be able to use cloud-based technologies like Google Drive (for storage). As a part of the process she gave them guidance by highlighting and commenting on their documents in Google Drive. But in addition, she wanted them to have professional cloud-based presentations to show these future employers, so she also wanted them to produce a class presentation in Powtoon, or Prezi.

Presentation Presentation
Student Presentation: Group Four Student Presentation: Group 5

As the examples show, several students used Powtoons to present their material, and some made use of Powtoons with music. Overall the professor thought there was a lot of creativity involved in the production of their presentations. In addition the students used good presentation strategies, for example they used transitions and ask each other questions within the presentation.

Professor Komis was very happy, “near tears” with the quality of student presentations. Student generated media can be innovative and quite creative when groups of students work well together.

The Process

Professor Komis had her students
  1. develop a proposal (Google Drive);
  2. an annotated bibliography (Google Drive);
  3. an essay on the topic (Google Drive); and then finally
  4. present the cloud based presentation (Powtoon or Prezi).

In total she had 12 groups in her two sections, and felt they just about all got along during the process. She used a rubric as an assessment strategy, focused the students on the content early, and then the presentation strategies later in the semester.

Developing animated presentations allowed students to think about their audience and how best to produce materials. For instance if they were presenting cartoons would that make sense for teachers, or elementary school students? Powtoon may be a good solution to teach teachers how to use and develop animations. However PowerPoint just cannot produce these complex animated presentations. Powtoon is just one cloud-based technology that could be used there are other tools that Komis was considering, but just didn’t get a chance to use these tools.

Considerations for Student Generated Media Projects

Professor Komis thought her student products were very professional and she only wished they had more time to work on it. However she felt that it would be better if these types of activities were used earlier and not left until the end of the semester. Overall student groups were very organized in their presentations. Second language learners were excellent, very “professional,” and perhaps the had the best presentations in either the section.
Komis liked the use of student-based media via collaborative groups, but would perhaps change the grading structure of each of her assignments. In any technology-based assignment, professors must continually revise what their Instructional Strategies to help students to succeed. As she said “there’s always room for improvement.” Finally she wanted to convey that it’s important to schedule assignments relative to holidays, not assign multiple products simultaneously, and always consider student workload, so that they have development time from conception to completion.