Each term, I ask students to form groups and create a presentation on some human resources or business topic, depending upon the course. Over the years I have observed the good, the bad, and well, the downright ugly. This year I have started to notice a change in the presentations. One change is in the amount and quality of the research on companies that students undertake. That is expected at university. It is not really new. So what is new?
What is new, is:
1. The ability to take large amounts of information, gathered from a variety of sources and present it in a coherent cogent fashion.
2. Great design to enable the viewer to access the information on the slides easily. This is more than pretty slides. Thank you for pretty PowerPoint slides. They are certainly better than the ugly ones. But the layout of information from a learning and design perspective has gotten significantly better.
3. Knowing the presentation content. Presenting with confidence. Being able to answer questions with insight and knowledge.
4. Poise. Even the students who said that they hate presenting (all of them), those who said that they do not do it well (all of them, and those who say they do not present often (all of them), they were professional, faced the audience, did not read the slides out loud, used the technology well, recovered and handled glitches that came up with confidence and overall, were prepared and presented skillfully.
The students in my classes range in age and experience from quite young to quite experienced. Over the past years, I have come to expect solid research and thinking from the older more experienced students and technical ability from the younger students. Now, the younger students are demonstrating a higher level of proficiency is both accessing good information (beyond Wikipedia), analyzing the information rather than sticking it on a slide, and reporting the analyzed findings in a way that is easy to follow, easy to understand within a well structured narrative. Amazing.
So, to the students in my 2014 classes, thank you for showing me how much fun learning can be, how incredibly professional your business communications can be and for showing me that there is a lot for me to learn from the new and experienced students whom I am blessed to have in my classes. Thank you.