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A pecha kucha consists of 20 images, each narrated for 20 seconds, resulting in a 6 minute and 40 second presentation.
Pecha kucha presentations seemed to offer a suitable way to challenge students to communicate the guts of a complex topic in a compelling manner. Pecha kuchas also provide students with a hands-on experience of making educational multimedia.
In the courses where I've implemented pecha kuchas, the students also write an in-depth research paper (approximately 25-30 pages).
It's useful for students to have a general framework for thinking about developing a pecha kucha presentation.
Each pecha kucha presentation needed to address four presentation needs: (1) introduction and summary, (2) underlying theory, (3) problem context, and (4) implications for instructional practice. Finally, implications address the connections between theory and research to changing instructional practice. Meta Kucha: To help students get started, I created a meta-kucha (a pecha kucha about pecha kuchas).
Giving a Presentation: Scott Berkum's presentation is very useful for pecha kucha beginners.
The students I work with are savvy educational practitioners, but most of them are novices to research, research writing, data analysis, as well as multimedia design.
While cognitive load theory (or CLT) is very useful for understanding successful learning in a variety of contexts, it's the low prior + intrinsically difficult scenario that the theory best addresses.
Sweller proposed that there are three discrete loads on our working memory: extraneous, intrinsic, and germane. Germane load is the amount of working memory we have available for actively processing new information. Sweller proposed, and subsequent research supports, the notion that working memory can be overloaded since these three sources of load appear to be both independent and additive. Over the past 20 plus years, most of the cognitive load research has investigated various conditions and impacts of extraneous load.
Currently there is a shift towards deeper understanding of various instructional techniques and their impact on student learning.
Creating any presentation, but especially a multimedia presentation product, contains a series of choices and ambiguities. Did students think the rigid pacing of pecha kuchas provided support or additional difficulty? The first two questions (focus and connections) addressed the issue of enhanced germane load. The purpose of this study was to get an initial understanding of the usefulness, limitations, and changes needed, to make the pecha kucha project a worthwhile learning project. Semester 1 used the Creativity (n=11) course and a Cognitive Psychology course (n=5), Semester 2 used the Motivation course (n=14), and Semester 3 used the Cognitive Psychology course (n=13). Understanding: The pecha kucha project helped me develop a deeper understanding of course content. Reflection 1: The Pecha Kucha project helped me reflect on my specialization area to a deeper level than I would have done otherwise.
Reflection 2: If I had not done a pecha kucha project, but only a written paper, it is likely that I would have reflected less on the key issues in my specialization area. Evaluate: The pecha kucha project encouraged me to critically analyze and evaluate the professional value of my chosen specialization area.
Open 1: Please describe the key benefits, from your point of view, of doing the pecha kucha project. Open 2: Please provide suggestions about how the pecha kucha project could become a deeper and more meaningful project in the future.
The wording of the suggestion question changed between semester one and the following semesters. By the fourth of nine classes, students needed to have selected their specialization topic used for both their pecha kucha and research paper. At the sixth of nine classes, the class watched one instructor-created, and two student-created, examples. For the two open-ended questions, I hoped to find trends as indicated by percentages of responses categorized. This section reports the results collected over three academic semesters using an end-of-semester survey instrument.
Table 1 presents the results for the 4 major survey items: the two germane load indicators (focus and connections) and the two intrinsic load indicators (difficulty and pacing).
One of the main purposes of the pecha kucha assignment was to encourage students to develop highly focused presentations. Another primary purpose of the pecha kucha assignment was to uncover key connections between their specialization area and implications for instructional practice.
Ideally the difficulty item would be rated in the middle of the scale: not too easy, not too difficult. High ratings on this item would indicate that the 20-second-per-image structure of pecha kuchas helped decrease intrinsic load because of the nature of the rigid presentation pacing requirement. Table 2 presents the results for the usefulness, understanding, and structure survey items. Usefulness provided a general indicator about whether to continue using the pecha kucha format. The rationale for including this item was to serve as a check to see if the pecha kucha assignment overlapped too much with the written paper.
This item was used to check against negative perceptions: would the pecha kucha structure prove to be a distraction or irritant to students? The evaluate item tapped into the potential for practical professional reflection resulting from the pecha kucha assignment. One of the two open-ended prompts asked: Please describe the key benefits, from your point of view, of doing the pecha kucha project. Comments categorized as Greater Focus stated that the pecha kucha assignment encouraged them to think about their specialization area in a more focused manner. The nature of the pecha kucha cuts the theory down to it's essence, while allowing for creative expression. The very tight format and required connection to instructional practice necessitate synthetic thinking and reflection about the implications for actual teaching. Greater focus and synthetic thinking seem to be overlapping, but relatively distinct, factors. The second open-ended prompt asked: Please provide suggestions about how the pecha kucha project could become a deeper and more meaningful project in the future.
Leave project as is comments changed dramatically from the first to third semesters of implementation.
Two survey items, focus and connections, were used as indicators of germane load while students worked on the pecha kucha project. The supplementary survey items (usefulness, understanding, and structure, and three reflection items) combined with the open-ended responses (benefits, suggestions) support the main conclusions.
For many years educators at all levels have sought new and effective ways to enhance students actively processing new material they learn.
One of the big unknowns from this descriptive snapshot study is the relationship between two course projects: writing an in-depth paper (about 25-30 pages long) and the pecha kucha presentation. This descriptive study was intended to provide an initial snapshot regarding the effectiveness of one specific multimedia learning challenge: the pecha kucha presentation. Unfortunately pecha kucha research can not be done within a short time span such as an hour or a day.
Based on these initial findings, it seems that pecha kuchas could be a very useful instructional tool for instructors at several different levels of education. Pecha kuchas are short presentations that last for a predictable length of time (6 minutes, 40 seconds). The most tangible student benefits to using pecha kuchas are: (1) the format encourages students to discern and focus on the most essential elements of a topic, (2) the format encourages synthetic thinking and reflection, and (3) the format encourages students to think more visually, less bullet-list-ly, when creating a presentation.
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This innovative new presentation format was inspired by the lack of participation in design presentation gatherings.
This format meant that a gathering could have a fixed number of presentations of known length, plus discussions. This is a difficult process, but the pecha kucha format requires students to make hard choices about what to keep, plus what to ignore, in their presentations. Pecha kuchas offer the potential for enhancing the research papers via a form of academic cross-training. Why use a specific instructional strategy unless it addresses a real and ongoing concern in instructional practice? The idea here is to show how the specialization area could be implemented into a real classroom. This means that the many existing examples available the web are not always helpful for students. In his presentation Scott uses the Ignite format (a variation of the pecha kucha): it consists of 20 images for 15 seconds each (5 minutes total).
There aren't many commonalities across these examples save: (1) they are done well, and (2) they all use images that enhance the experience but don't overwhelm or distract. CLT expands on our understanding of working memory: specifically that working memory is both extremely limited but also easily taxed or overloaded.


Extraneous load occurs when elements in the learning environment (classroom, book, etc.) detract attention from the learning challenge at hand. Specifically Sweller defined intrinsic load as being high or low depending on how many interacting elements were necessary to understand the content. This active processing integrates the new information with any previous understanding (or misconceptions) stored in our long-term memory.
Put simply, this large body of research indicates that it's very easy to create extraneous load, thereby negatively impacting learning. While some studies still focus on eliminating extraneous load factors, more current studies look at techniques such as scaffolding to decrease intrinsic load levels.
This becomes more difficult if a student needs to present about a topic they've only recently mastered themselves.
If student feedback indicated that these two factors were not present to a high level, then this would indicate germane load was not being optimized through the learning project. The data collected so far has been done over three different semesters with a total of 43 doctoral students.
The first 4 questions directly addressed the study's research questions, while the last 3 provided supporting detail.
Each of these items tapped into student perceptions of how much the pecha kucha project helped them become more reflective learners. Based on the survey feedback after the semester, plus informal discussions with students, I tweaked the intervention in helpful ways for students. Almost none of the students had heard of a pecha kucha before, so during the first third of the semester I showed them where they could find out more about pecha kuchas and provided examples they could view on their own at the course website.
By the fifth class students needed to identify three research articles they'd be using as the focus of their research paper. The overall mean rating for the focus item was 8.35, with the mean increasing each subsequent semester. The overall mean rating for the connections item was 7.86, with means fluctuating a bit each semester. Part of the value of the pecha kucha challenge was how it complemented the in-depth paper assignment.
These are high ratings, and based on these initial results it appears that the pecha kucha project provides an additional reflective component not already present in other course activities or projects.
The Pecha Kucha forces me to excavate the real nuggets of what I've learned and present them in plain accessible language. These comments accounted for 29% of the suggestions in first semester but accounted for 62% of the suggestions in third semester. The results suggest that the pecha kucha project does help students actively process to a high level.
The biggest unknown at this point is how useful pecha kuchas are without the complementary challenge of writing an in-depth paper. The predictable brevity means it's much easier for an instructor to plan for discussions after each presentation.
Each of these benefits on their own have merit, but collectively the three benefits make a compelling case for using pecha kuchas to deepen student understanding of a topic. The intelligent format of brief talks provides the artistic and fascinating individuals of our world a platform to precise themselves… whereas staying extraordinarily concise. In order to avoid long and exhausting presentations I ask you to do your presentation using pecha kucha style. This web article describes why I use pecha kuchas for academic presentations, how they are implemented, and the evidence from initial survey data indicating their effectiveness for better learning.
The pecha kucha restrictions of 20 images for 20 seconds each encourage the use of a simple presentation with a strong clear theme.
It is typical in the architectural and graphic design communities for professionals to get together and share their latest work. Once these professional design presentation gatherings switched to the pecha kucha format, attendance at events grew dramatically. The pecha kucha timing of 20 seconds per image pushes students to move away from text-laden bullet lists, and move towards simpler, more authentically visual slides.
Specifically the combined effects of having students explore a topic in greater depth (paper), but also being able to succinctly communicate that research area to a novice through a pecha kucha, seemed to potentially offer a more powerful learning experience. It's important to note that this framework serves as a starting point for students to think through their project, it is not a mandated structure.
While the 4 areas are non-negotiable, the number of images and way each area is communicated is very flexible. The theory has both evolved and been supported by numerous research studies over the past 25 years.
The learners I typically work with should maximally benefit from good cognitive load design principles due to the low prior knowledge-high intrinsic load learning challenges they face. While our long term memory seems to be able to store an almost unlimited amount of information, gaining easy access to that stored information, and actively processing new information, are challenging tasks since it must all be done in our limited working memory. Memorizing 50 states and their capitals would not be considered high in intrinsic load because there are only two levels of interacting elements: the 50 state-capital pairs to be memorized.
Put simply, it's the amount of working memory capacity we have for focusing on the learning matter at hand. In general this research indicates that basic retention of information is not impacted, but that the ability to transfer that information to new situations (what we typically call problem solving) is greatly enhanced when extraneous load is removed. In the past five years there have been a small number of studies specifically looking at tools (such as prompts) to enhance germane load through active processing.
By reducing any ambiguity or distractions involved in presentation format and structure was thought to help students by reducing unneeded extraneous load. Most of them have worked for several years in their respective educational environments (primary, secondary, or higher education).
Each course used identical final project requirements: a pecha kucha and a research paper both addressing aspects of a specialization topic the student had chosen. All Likert item stems were answered using a 1-to–9 response scale, where the response options ranged from strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree (9).
Specifically the first two questions were used as indicators of germane load (Focus and Connections), while questions 3 and 4 served as indicators of intrinsic load (Difficulty and Pacing). Reflective learning was seen to be an indication of greater active processing, and thus higher levels of germane load. These focal research pieces also had an influence on the content of their pecha kucha presentation.
At the seventh class students performed a mini-kucha consisting of 3 slides for a total of one minute.
Once an analysis was completed at both time periods, I reviewed just the Other comments to see if any micro-trends emerged. Items with mean scores at 7 or above were considered high, scores between 4 and 6 to be medium, and scores between 1 and 3 to be low.
This is a very high rating and supports the idea that the structure of the pecha kucha format helped students created more focused presentations. This is also a very high rating and provides a positive indication that the pecha kucha assignment encouraged the development of new connections. If the pecha kucha was perceived as too easy then students wouldn't pay enough attention to the challenge, if perceived as too difficult then students may have been spending too much time and effort on the assignment. These are high ratings, and they indicate that students found the 20-second pacing actually supported and helped their development of the presentation. The overall mean rating was 8.30 with very little fluctuation in ratings between semesters. Based on the evidence, it appears the pecha kucha project provides a unique and relatively independent way for students to deepen their understanding of a specialization area.
While these are moderately high ratings, they also suggest that the paper also has a strong reflective component.
These are high ratings and seem to suggest that the pecha kucha assignment encouraged students to think more deeply about the implications of their chosen research specialization for improving instructional practice. Both projects required focused attention to the relevant aspects of the theory, eliminating the possibility of taking bird walks that lead nowhere. The enhance organization comments did not target one specific area, but collectively were suggestions for streamlining or scaffolding the project in the future. Specifically the second reflection item, asking students to compare against only doing a research paper, indicated there was an added-value component of doing the pecha kucha plus the research paper as compared to only writing a paper. However, for instructors that already use student presentations, it would seem reasonable to test out the more succinct and stylized format offered by pecha kuchas. If possible I would like to have pecha kucha presentations span my last two class sessions so there is more productive time to collectively discussion each presentation in class. Erat lectus sem ut lobortis, adipiscing ligula eleifend, sodales fringilla mattis dui nullam.
It's a great tradition, but over time the problem was that fewer and fewer people attended these gatherings.
The solution that the pecha kucha format provided for the design community seemed generalizable to academic presentations, especially since the pecha kucha format pushes a presenter to think and plan carefully for the essence of what they want to communicate.
As a result, students would have the experience of creating something closer to a true multimedia product that combines audio, visuals, and a snappy narrative. In essence, students need to find a way to present both theory and supporting research in a very short time span: 2 minutes. Each of the examples below shared a common target audience: beginning first-semester doctoral students in education. Research has found several different, seemingly small, ways to create relatively high levels of extraneous load. An almost equally bad learning situation occurs when both extraneous and intrinsic levels are very low.


For low prior knowledge learners attempting to master difficult material, it is deep learning that is difficult to attain. Another area of recent controversy asks whether we really need to distinguish between intrinsic and germane sources of load. In addition students were provided with some practical forms of support for how to create the pecha kucha (an instructor-created meta-kucha and some other pecha kucha examples, guidelines for how to conceptualize and structure a presentation, plus live class time opportunities to present early drafts of their work and receive timely feedback).
If student feedback indicated the project was too difficult, or too easy, that would indicate a re-structuring of the project was needed. Four different courses were used for data collection, and there were a small number of students (n=5) that were in both the Semester 1 and Semester 2 courses. The size of doctoral courses is quite small (typically 8 to 16 students), so no between-group comparisons was practical. In each case the descriptor for the item is provided in bold first, followed by the actual item stem. Students understood that the pecha kucha and research paper projects were complementary: the pecha kucha would provide an introduction to their specialization topic, while the research paper would provide depth. This email was sent out two days after the last class, and students were given 10 days to respond.
They were read two times by the instructor (a month apart in time) to find and check thematic trends.
Items with mean scores at 7 or above were considered high, scores between 4 and 6 were considered medium, and scores between 1 and 3 were considered low.
Put differently, making connections indicated there was a high level of active processing, therefore high germane load. In addition, if rated highly difficult, this would serve as an indicator that intrinsic load was too high.
Based on these results it seems the built-in pacing structure of a pecha kucha is not an obstruction, nor does it add to intrinsic load. Put differently, the results suggest that the research paper and the pecha kucha presentation are complementary assignments. For example, one suggestion was to do the final pecha kucha presentations split over the last two classes (instead of just the last meeting).
The results indicate the project was seen as moderately difficult from a technical perspective, plus the rigid pacing requirement was seen as highly beneficial. This result is important as it indicates that pecha kuchas don't duplicate the work of a research paper, but instead complements and deepens that project with a resulting higher level of understanding of the specialization topic.
Its simplicity of style and execution, plus the need for relatively modest instructional support, indicates this may be a very good practical instructional tool to use in other instructional settings. It's also possible that there are other multimedia formats that may be equally, or more, effective than pecha kuchas.
At the high school and middle school levels presentations could either be done in groups, or presented over several days.
Applying the science of learning: Evidence-based principles for the design of multimedia instruction. The implementation of pre?lecture resources to reduce in?class cognitive load: A case study for higher education chemistry.
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This brief H minutes provides a Pecha Kucha Night the casual and spontaneous really feel of one thing particular and really private.
Thus a mini-script for each 20 second image would be about 50 words, or 1,000 words for the total presentation. Presenters tended to ramble, to talk much longer than the assigned time restriction, and too often created presentations that lacked a clear sharp focus. As the instructor, I facilitate the process of audio recording and the final mastering of the video project. The bottom line was always on effective academic communication, regardless of specific technical structure. Students can take a bit more time if they want, but if all they do is address the basic theory and research then the audience won't understand why the topic is important, nor will they get a sense of the instructional implications of the research area.
Hopefully the previous examples gave you a better sense of how pecha kuchas might work, the kind of content that can be effectively conveyed in less than 7 minutes, and some of the fun students had when creating their products. In essence extraneous load is wasted learning energy, and researchers suggest eliminating as much extraneous load as possible. On the other hand, understanding how a camera works can be very challenging as there are several elements that work together (aperture, shutter speed, sensor sensitivity (ISO), and lens focal length) and each element can't be understood independent of one another.
Although there's plenty of room for germane load, the student ends up only learning easy material.
Perhaps most relevant is the debate over whether anything can be done about intrinsic load.
In total these supports were seen to help reduce intrinsic load: especially given the format needs to be very tight and is seen as very challenging to most students. Likewise, if feedback indicated that the pecha kucha pacing was problematic, this would indicate that the format itself was making the learning process more difficult. The main purpose of this mini-kucha was to give students the experience of doing their presentation live and to receive short initial feedback.
Another suggestion was to require students to pick their specialization topic a bit earlier in the semester.
Put simply, the level of intrinsic load seemed appropriate and the key technical attribute of pecha kuchas (20 seconds per image) was seen as useful rather than a problem. For example, if students were required to conduct a lengthy paper on one topic, and a pecha kucha on a completely different topic, would that lead to cognitive overload and student frustration? At the higher educational undergraduate level, especially with large courses, pecha kucha presentations would likely need to be created by groups rather than individuals. With all of the creativity that flows from these occasions, we thought we’d share a few of our favourite current posters from the now 10 yr previous collection. Students do the hard work all on their own: developing a good story and creating the visual backbone. Someone may have high prior knowledge in statistics, but very low prior knowledge in oil painting. What we really want is to balance the need to learn appropriately challenging material while making sure we've provided sufficient support for actively processing that new and difficult material via germane load. Finally, the pecha kucha format itself actively encourages students to present what is most important about their topic area. In addition the prompt used for the second open-ended question was slightly altered after the initial semester. The course website, and short class discussions, provided tips about writing a short script (e.g.
At the eighth class, students performed a longer sixa-kucha consisting of 6 slides (2 minutes total). This result indicates students found the project moderately challenging, but not overwhelming, in terms of difficulty. Provide more feedback was a set of targeted comments mainly involving feedback after the early practice pecha kuchas. On the other hand, it's hard to see a pecha kucha replacing an in-depth written paper since the presentation serves only as an introduction to a topic. The official Pecha-Kucha website provides more detail on this presentation format, especially in their frequently asked questions page: 20 frequently asked questions. General multimedia presentations raise too many ambiguities and challenges for students: (1) how long should it be, (2) how many images to use, (3) how much depth to provide are some of the typical questions arising with a more general multimedia presentation project. Whenever you find learners with low-prior knowledge, beginning to tackle difficult material, then the cognitive load design principles produce the biggest bang for the buck. However, over the past ten years researchers have looked at techniques such as scaffolding and chunking to reduce intrinsic load. For most doctoral students that challenge to deeply understand and extract the most important elements to communicate were seen as a worthwhile challenge that helped them keep focused on the learning challenge. In this case students were expected to have a decent idea of their presentation structure and the images they wanted to use. By inference we might conclude extraneous load was not very high, otherwise due to the additive property of cognitive load, the germane ratings would have been lower. In summary, there's still a lot to be gleaned about when, and when not, to use pecha kucha assignments. My own personal sense is that group work would likely add to the student's understanding as they'd need to develop a succinct, focused shared understanding of their topic together. The dual purpose of this exercise was to give students a second experience performing live, and to receive more extended feedback.
The effect of directive tutor guidance on students' conceptual understanding of statistics in problem-based learning. At the ninth, and final, class students performed their full pecha kucha presentation and received short feedback. Some current examples embrace talks on quantifying happiness, preparing a patch of land for farming, and examining the thin line between design and art.
The pecha kucha project was contextualized by letting students know the intent of their pecha kucha was to introduce their respective topic areas to other doctoral students. Their research papers, on the other hand, were intended to provide needed depth to the topic. See pechakucha.org to discover a presentation close to you, or watch recorded slideshows of past events.



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