Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Ignite your passion and share

As educators, we are very passionate about teaching and learning. We each have our areas of expertise, and now, with accessible tools that make it easy to create a presentation, podcast, video, or animation, we can share our passion and expertise with others.
One popular model for sharing is the Ignite model. Ignite talks are usually given in person. Each presenter giving an Ignite talk is allowed twenty slides, which advance every fifteen seconds, giving the presenter five minutes to give the talk. Customarily, there are multiple Ignite presenters during an event. Here is a little background on the Ignite talk model.
Although not exactly adhering to the Ignite model,  but close enough, I presented this 5:36, 16-slide informative talk at iPadpalooza 2016 in Austin, TX. You can view other presenter’s Ignite-like talks here.


Dean Shareski, of Discovery Education, has been utilizing the Ignite model for the past few years as part of Discovery Education professional development for teachers. The DE Team holds an informal networking event with 8-10 educators each giving a 5-minute Ignite talk. Discovery Education provide presenters with a common prompt for their talk.
One of these prompts was “What are you curious about?”
Some of the titles for the these Ignite talks were:
  • A bit of a thing for wood
  • I like big books and I cannot lie
  • Storytelling is not enough
  • A buffet of Discovery
  • Prairie lighthouses
  • From hibernation to transformation: An obsession with learning
  • How to grow a loaf of bread
  • Connecting
  • Are you busy?
Rex Ferguson-Baird, who was curious about leadership, entitled his Ignite Talk “Leadership: A constant process of identity reinvention” and you can view it below.
This year’s Discovery Education “Ignite Your Passion” talks prompt is  “I used to ______ but now I ________.”
The presenters picked a wide range of topics to present about!
  • “I used to paper, but now I tech”
  • “I used to be bald….”
  • “I used to stress but now I Ommm”
  • “I used to think boxes were for packing stuff in, but now I now they are for letting things out.”
  • “I used to blab…But now I sit back and watch”
  • “I used to lay on the couch…’
  • “I used to only have iPads, now I have choice & community”
  • “I used to think community was important…”
  • “I used to pull out my hair, but now I’m painting rainbows”
  • “I used to blame parents but now I have kids of my own.”
Tara McLauchlan, a DEN Star, entitled her Ignite talk “I used to read books…” and you can view it below.
Discovery held an Ignite session at FETC17, too. Read about it here!
I attend lots of conferences throughout the year, and many of the conferences have an Ignite talk session. In an hour time slot, allowing for each presenter to get to the podium and put on the mic, there usually are 8-10 talks. Some conferences record and archive this presentations, and here are some for you to view.
ISTE is one of the conferences that has included concurrent sessions in the Ignite format for the past few conferences. Here is one of the Ignite sessions from 2015.


Although some Ignite sessions are informational, most are reflections of the personal passion of the presenter. By watching a variety of these Ignite talks, you will see many types of presentation styles and slide formats. Some talks are emotional, some humorous, some sarcastic, some timely, and some defy classification! However, I do feel all of these Ignite sessions could be classified as very tightly-knit digital stories.
The Digital Storytelling at the University of Houston provides a good starting point when beginning digital storytelling with their Elements of Digital Storytelling. Consider these aspects when developing your Ignite session.
  1. Point of View:  What is the main point of the story? Who am I telling the story to?  Why am I telling the story now?
  2. A Dramatic Question is a key question, obvious or subtle, that keeps the viewer’s attention and will be answered by the end of the story.
  3. Emotional Content: Research has shown that emotion enhances knowledge and understanding.  Serious issues that come alive in a personal and powerful way can connect the audience to the story.
  4. The Gift of Your Voice: By using inflection, you can personalize the story to help the audience understand the context.
  5. The Power of the Soundtrack: Music and sound effects can add another layer of meaning and embellish the story.
  6. Economy: Use just enough content to tell the story without overloading the viewer.
  7. Pacing: Viewers need time to absorb and process the information they have been presented with. (In an Ignite session, this sometimes is hard because of the slide timings required by the model.)
  8. Deciding on the overall purpose of the story— is it to persuade, inform, instruct?
  9. Attention to the quality of the images and videos included
  10. Attention to good grammar and language usage
The process of planning and creating the Ignite talk takes some practice, too. Here is a simple overview of one person’s Ignite talk creation workflow that might work for you. This second workflow is pretty similar.  They both involve storyboarding or outlining, digitizing the storyboard and creating your speaker notes, fine-tuning the timing, developing the visuals, and practicing the talk. Practice recording the talk right within your presentation tool, to see how well you adhere to the automatic timings. Then, find a colleague or two who can give you some feedback on the content and your presentation style during the talk.
Once you feel comfortable with your Ignite talk, consider submitting to present it at a local or regional conference. Ignite session audiences are the best– they love the fast-paced style and learning from many different presenters in a short time!
If you don’t feel up to presenting at a conference, you can use a Google Hangout on Air to record the presenting of your slides and your face at the same time.
Have you ever given an Ignite talk? Want to share some of your tips?  How about a link to your talk if it is posted online?  Share it with us on Twitter! #kathyschrock