Mapping Folder-based Presentations

Geek Warning: This is probably about a 7.5 on the 10 point geek scale!

I wrote a while back about how impressed I was with Stephen Heppell’s method for doing keynotes. Rather than using Powerpoint slides, he presents right out of his hard drive, concepts organized by folders (see Stephen Heppell Keynote at SuperConference and Tinker Toy Networks). I’ve played around with it myself, working with some of the techniques that he taught me, and I like it. Just before starting my video games sessions yesterday,

Picture of presentation Folder
This is the open folder for my Video Games as Learning Engines presentation. The folder and file icons are arranged in something of a curling line so that there is some sense of sequence. However, I can easily skip around as needed. Folders can be opened with many icons to chose from for that aspect of the presentation. Plus, with OS 10.5 (Leopard), all I have to do is click most icons (images and videos) and they pop up and play almost immediately in preview mode.
a teacher came up to me and asked some important questions about SecondLife. I’d not planned to go into so much detail about the virtual world, but they were such good questions, that I quickly, in about a half minute, made a new folder, and dumped some images, a video, and several web links into the folder. It seems to be a very brain-like way to teach.

My nagging question has been, what to leave with the audience. With Powerpoint and Keynote, I can post the slides on Slideshare. No easy way to do this from my hard drive. I tried just building an outline on my online handouts, but that was time-consuming and editing it each time I added or deleted something is problematic.

Then I tried using Inspiration to create a graphical, branching tree type approach, and this looked great. However, when it came time to edit it, I had to edit the Inspiration file, export it as HTML, upload, etc. Looked great, but it was contrary to the spirit of having an easily adaptive technique of presenting content. I also tried a couple of online idea mapping tools, and like Mind42 a lot. However, they just upgraded the software and there are still some bugs. I’ll probably go back to them when they’ve fixed the publish feature.

But in the process of playing around with Mind42, I learned about FreeMind. It’s an open source downloaded (Windows, Mac OSX, & Linux) application that is designed for free form idea and project tracking. It is fairly customizable using CSS and the files can be exported as MM format, which seems to be a standard idea mapping file format. Mind42 imports them, so that’s what I’ll be trying next.

Image of FreeMind rendering of presentation folder But what really works for me is that FreeMind will import file structures. I simply find the folder for my presentation, import it, and FreeMind creates a branching graph that reflects the file and folder structure. It even hyperlinks any web shortcuts that I’ve included. There is some cleanup necessary, as it captures invisible files as well. So you have to delete those out, and do a little rearranging, which is very easy, once you learn the keyboard shortcuts.

FreeMind will then export as an XHTML file with a clickable map that links to an outline, also generated by the program. The only step left is FTP’ing the file up to my web server, for which I’ve started using the Fireftp Firefox extension, so I don’t even have to launch a FTP client.

Here is the end product.

I’m fairly happy with this.

Author: David Warlick

David Warlick has been an educator for the past 40+ years. He continues to do some writing, but is mostly seeking his next intersect between play, passion and purpose, dabbling in photography, drone videography and music production.