In my first Reversing the Presentation post I talked in general about moving from presenting in the shadows of a whiteboard to facing students with their handheld digital devices, and in Reverse Presentations Rejuvenate Education Industries I talked specifically about how the document camera industry could begin reversing the presentation process/best practices. In this post I’ll go another step further, still keeping the document camera as the presentation example. It’s a wonderful example of a pre-cloud industry. Some of my corporate friends don’t understand my compassion for existing education technology companies. Where they see doom, I see possibilities. Again, that’s the advantage of looking from the outside, dreaming, with just a dash of imagination. There is no reason a pre-Cloud company can’t become a Cloud company, and eventually a post-Cloud company.
So, let’s add the Cloud environment to this new reverse presentation approach using document cameras as the tool, to not only reach those students using their classroom handhelds and iPads, but also to make available the same materials to teachers and their students away from the classroom and beyond the walls—home and anywhere. If a company thinks it’s modern and hasn’t gone to the Clouds—it isn’t modern at all. This needs to be a step to succeed.
Document cameras, and other presentation devices need to become presenters that share to classroom and groups of student handhelds; iPads, tablet devices, and students need to be able to share back modifications and new ideas. Well, the abundance of data generated even in one lesson could overwhelm a thumb drive, or the small memory traditionally used as places to save files on document cameras or presentation devices. Saving to a computer, or to a student or teacher’s iPad can work, but it won’t be enough easy-to-access space either. One answer is simple, document cameras, or Presenters need to have some sort of Cloud storage and access. Teachers and students need drop and drag lockers for work, images, files, and more. This is not difficult to do. Netbook and laptop companies have provided this space for a long time. While Apple has it’s own Cloud venture, between products, all companies can provide something similar to customers. At the beginning, it could just be a drag and drop Cloud storage space, but later it could be much more, with access to other apps, tools, and 3rd party solutions, too.
I know that it’s difficult to make suggestions for changing or even saving an industry, especially when company mindset thinks everything is fine—status quo. In the larger scheme of things this is not Patton, coming to relieve the heroes at Bastogne, where defending troops adamantly shouted they didn’t need Patton’s saving. But in this iPad age, if your best teaching practice is putting an iPad under a document camera for projection to a front whiteboard, perishing, sooner rather than later, is inevitable. For me, General McAuliffe’s eloquent reply to surrender is completely appropriate there, too—“Nuts!” Program directors with their teams can make things happen if the direction is clear. I see nothing wrong with saying to engineers, programmers, and software/hardware people, “Here’s where we need to be; let’s make it happen!”
Here’s how I explained this to a friend of mine, recently: Think of a beautiful garden with a small stream meandering through. Now picture small stepping-stones placed across the stream, in not such a perfect way. While jumping the stream is possible, it’s not recommended, and skipping stones to cross may not be the best approach either. Here’s the point, companies that haven’t begun to evolve for this new digital and Cloud age desperately need to get their feet on that first stepping-stone. More than that, they have to begin talking and writing about, as well as publicizing the next stepping-stones—all the way to the last. Companies also must remain nimble, and ready to change, just in case one, or more of those stepping-stones moves, changes, or just isn’t “technologically” there any longer.
Finally, there has to be a teaching community base for educators using reverse presentation, presenters, Cloud, and best practices. Companies that want to survive in the post-Cloud era need to begin, now if they haven’t already, to gather educators of, and for, change. Most company websites, today, are full of unreadable PDFs, or product pricing blurbs, and unnavigable, with plenty of broken links. To change, connected educators will help guide companies as an integral part of reversing digital presentation change and expansion to the Cloud.
Please remember that during any change process you cannot forget the least common denominator. There will be those who just want the standard document camera on the desk setup, because that’s the step they are on, but offering more choices, all the way to Cloud and beyond needs to happen. Those moving toward post-Cloud will require more future-think and future-care to get there. Also remember that what works in the classroom can work at the university level, as well as in the corporate meeting room.
Like stepping-stones across a stream, this post cannot be considered my last on the subject, but rather the third stone on which to plant your education-industry feet.