This fall (2012) I’m giving student in one of my classes the option to present on texts we’re reading using the PechaKucha format: 20 slides, each displayed for 20 seconds — or 6 minutes and 40 seconds of narration.
Why? Because just like a rhyme scheme, formal constraints enable creative thinking. PechaKuchas necessitate careful preparation (about 6 hours, in one estimate) and rehearsal to ensure that the slides contain just enough material (often more images than text) to complement your narrative, and that your narrative is pithy and focused enough to cover the necessary ground in 20 x 20-second chunks.
The other reason is that this is no ordinary course; it’s a seminar of 15 advanced students about representation and observation. We start with Wordsworth and end with A. S. Byatt, with Darwin and Carl Sagan and data visualizations in between. These students are ready for the challenge of an alternative format, and the material lends itself to it. Maybe we’ll record and post these presentations to the course blog.
What resources have I forgotten to mention? Who else is doing this in higher education? Share your course/assignment links in the comments, reflections on your experience, and anything else you think would be constructive.