Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Pecha Kucha and Learning

Each Kernite gets an opportunity to present on a topic of their interest on Tuesdays and Fridays. This has not become a ritual at Kern. It was my turn to present and I was looking for a topic to present on. This was when I came across the term Pecha Kucha. I read more about this and was quickly fascinated. I presented on Using Pecha Kucha in Learning. This session was meant to be interactive where we all pooled in our thoughts to understand how and whether Pecha Kucha would be a useful tool in training. Given below is a brief introduction to the concept and then thoughts by Kernites.

Pecha Kucha (pronounced as peh-chak-cha) is a Japanese term for chatter or chit chat. In 2003, Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham designed with presentation format to ensure that young designers got an opportunity to share their work. The idea was the keep each presentation really short and concise to ensure that the audience stayed focused. This also allowed multiple presenters to present at one event. The most fascinating aspect about pecha kucha is that the environment has to be informal. Pecha kucha is not about being locked indoors with a presenter going on and on and the audience sleeping with their eyes open. Check out the pictures in Pecha Kucha's official website to get an idea of what informal means http://www.pecha-kucha.org/

A typical pecha kucha night has 8-14 presenters. Each presenter is allotted 6 minutes and 40 seconds. They can show 20 images for 20 seconds each. Pecha kucha must be highly visual. Presentations do not have text and bullets. Instead, they have eye catching images/photographs that supplement what is being said by the presenter. Let us look at a popular example of pecha kucha.


This presentation format is widely used in the field of design, architecture, photography, art, education, and business. In the corporate world, employees are opting for this format for internal presentations to:
  • check the length of the presentation
  • ensure that the presenter zeroes in on the message
  • avoid interruptions
  • avoid horrible poorly designed PPT presentations
The essence is to keep the presentation crisp and short. During a pecha kucha presentation, the slide automatically moves to the next one as the presenter talks. The presenter must practice to ensure that he/she says what he/she has to say in the span of 20 seconds.

Can pecha kucha be an effective learning tool? I think so! Why?
  1. It is bound to grab the audience's attention (especially Gen Y).
  2. The presentation is crisp and to the point. All unnecessary information is filtered out leaving behing the real message.
  3. It may help bring people out of their shell. Since the setting is informal, people may be more comfortable.
  4. It is energy packed and highly dynamic.
Pecha kucha as an instructional tool
A trainer can teach a concept using this presentation format. But, we Kernites were not too kicked about this idea. Why? Pecha kucha is supposed to involve several presenters. The fun may be lost if it is restricted to just one. Also, 6 minutes and 20 seconds may not be suitable for all learners and topics. The learner may feel that the lesson was rushed. Another disadvantage is that the Q&A happens at the end of the session.

However, it may be an effective tool to recap what has already been taught or prior knowledge. It may also be useful to summarize a particular topic using pecha kucha. How? Allot one topic to each group in the audience. Ask them to design a pecha kucha presentation summarizing the topic assigned to them. From each team, have a presenter present their topic. This will ensure high involvement and motivation. This will also encourage healthy discussions and in turn, informal learning among learners. If your learners are spread across the globe, you could conduct pecha kucha online. This may not be as effective as conducting the event in a physical location but it is good enough.

Pecha Kucha as an Assessment Tool
How can pecha kucha be used as an assessment tool?
  • Problem Solving: Give a case study to your learners. Ask them to arrive at a solution(s) based on what they have learnt. Ask them to present this to other learners using the pecha kucha format.
  • Analysis/Critique/Reflection: Pose a question or a statement and ask the learner to analyze, critique, or reflect on it using the pecha kucha format.
Pecha kucha is a great collaboration tool. It not only brings learners together, it also encourages informal learning. One concern that Vaishnavi, a Kernite, raised was that not all will be comfortable with the presentation format. She personally feels that she would feel under pressure if she was asked to stick to 20 seconds per slide. The environment must be informal and dynamic. It must encourage participation. Presenters must also ensure that time has been kept aside for Q&A.

Have you used Pecha Kucha for training? Please share your thoughts and experiences.

Also read:
http://www.wired.com/techbiz/media/magazine/15-09/st_pechakucha#
http://www.pecha-kucha.org/
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,501060724-1214999,00.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pecha_Kucha
http://www2.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/business/story.html?id=8c161680-e761-4c33-9d4d-b250c15567ce&k=32343

1 comment:

daniel said...

This is fascinating.
I’d been taught that left-aligned labels are preferred, to support the prototypical F-shaped eye-tracking heat map of web browsing. The idea is that it supports easy vertical scanning.

online informal