a word on powerpoint

October 13th, 2013 § 1 comment

Maybe I am just missing something.

Maybe PowerPoint really sings to some people.  Maybe there are folks out there who read a chapter summary and think “God, I wish there was a PowerPoint for this.”

But, seriously.  PowerPoints.

They are written, but not skim-able.  They are visual, but not engaging.  When voice is added, rather than making me feel connected to the instructor and the content, the presentation feels forced and I feel tied to the pace of the speaker.

Many of the online university courses I have taken make extensive use of PowerPoint.  What a waste for online learning- with such a wealth of new tools and possibilities!- to be stuck using such a dull knife.

An easy example of better tools are video and screencast, which Khan Academy and various MOOCS have put to great use. But let’s not be too prescriptive.  Prescriptivism has been the biggest problem with the way educational institutions have taken on technology.

Educators are different and need to play to their strengths.  For some this means a lot of personal touches, hip videos, some screencast where it counts.  For others it means crafting well-organized resources, timely links, and asking the right questions.

Maybe there are a few teachers out there (maybe) who chose to use PowerPoint because it is the best tool for the way they educate.  But I get the impression that it is generally used instead because it is easy or because it is familiar.  And sometimes (though thankfully not often) because it is an easy crutch for poor teaching.  I am a humble student who doesn’t know what goes on behind the curtain, but I imagine that if educators had teaching tools that were more individualized and well-designed, online learning would become more effective.  And more interesting.

And I wouldn’t be flipping through so many PowerPoints.


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