PechaKucha:  A Different Method for Student Presentation and Writing

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PechaKucha Night

Recently, I attended the Lilly Conference on Designing Effective Teaching in Asheville, NC.  Dr. Richard Straw, Professor of History at Redford University, demonstrated a PechaKucha and discuss how he uses them assignments in his class.

PechaKucha, Japanese for “chit-chat”, is a fast-paced presentation style that has gained popularity in the past decade in design, marketing, advertising, and other disciplines as a way to quickly present work and exchange ideas.  Over the past decade, PechaKucha Night (PKN) events have become popular in different parts of the world and have been used by a wide range of professionals, from artists and designers to academics.

The format is simple:  presenters show twenty slides, each containing an image with no text, and have twenty seconds to talk about each slide.

Straw uses PKs in his class for short lectures before a discussion or class activity.  He also uses them as group and individual assignments in his courses.  Students have about three weeks to build the presentation and use PowerPoint or Keynote for the slides. 

Straw has the students write out the narration and submit that as a writing assignment.  When the students deliver the presentation, they receive a separate grade on the integration of the narration and visual components.  Straw has the students submit the source for each image and looks for a strong relationship between the image shown and the point being made in the narration.

He likes the PK 20×20 format because it forces the students to carefully choose images and narration for the most concise presentation to highlight main points.  While students sometimes initially think the assignment is easy – it’s just a six-minute presentation – they learn that it can take time to refine the presentation to focus on the most important and appropriate content.  Each twenty-second slide uses about thirty words of narration.

Straw finds that it works best to spread the student presentations throughout the semester, rather than in large groupings near the end of the class, since so much material is squeezed into a short time – he finds they work best presented singly or in small groups as a basis for discussion, class activities, or summarizing key concepts in the course.

PechaKucha Nights have been held in over 900 cities.  To learn more, you can watch some samples and find out more about PechaKuch Nights at the official pechakucha.org website.  You can also watch a video of a PechaKucha by a faculty member at the University of North Dakota about creating this type of presentation.

If you would like to get more ideas for presentations evaluating student projects, contact the CIT to talk with a consultant.

Image source: Eventfinda

Randy Riddle

Author: Randy Riddle

Randy A. Riddle consults with faculty in the Humanities and Social Sciences on integrating technology into teaching. He has been a CIT consultant since 2000. His professional interests include e-learning, social networking, online productivity tools, video and multimedia, and visualization. Randy’s current work includes management of the CIT’s Faculty Fellows program, consulting on Coursera course design and exploring areas such as e-textbook authoring. His other interests outside of work include restoration of vintage recording formats and broadcasting and film history. He volunteers for the Old Time Radio Researchers Group and maintains an ongoing blog on radio history research.