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PowerPoint Killed the Lecturer Star

  • Powerpoint Slide over-run with verbage.Are your PowerPoint or Keynote presentations any good? If your lecture came on TV, would you want to watch it? When I started teaching, one of my goals was to avoid various pet peeves I had as a student. At the very top of my list was what I’ll call the dreaded PowerPoint textbook. The change to computer-based presentations was an evolution I saw first hand after starting college in 1999. I watched as professors moved from writing on the board or overhead, to popping up slides, as computers moved into the lecture hall. PowerPoint gave presenters the ability to incorporate multi-media into presentations, and saved presenters from writing things over and over again. However, seemingly it’s also gave presenters the ability to produce mind-numbing boredom.

    Study after study tells us that PowerPoint presentations, as most are currently using them, are hindering learning. Yet, most continue with the same old thing - basically, presenter notes flashed on a screen. What was most surprising to me when I started teaching was that the publishers are complicit in this crime against learning! It makes it all too easy for us to keep giving bad presentations. So how can we do better? There are tons of tips out there. A Google search of PowerPoint overload returns about 22,400,000 results in 0.28 seconds. Over the summer, I read an article after Apple’s summer conference, and immediately shared the article with various colleagues. It’s aimed towards the business world, but illustrated a few of the points I’m trying to make here. The article called 10 Presentation Techniques You Can (And Should) Copy From Apple's WWDC Keynote by Carmine Gallo, is published by Forbes online, and is worth a read.

    Anyway, I’ve taken to a strict visual-aid only approach to my presentations. I make use of the presenter notes if I’d like to remind myself of something, and I take the information that might normally be found on presentation slides, and have created course notes (basically, my detailed presentation notes) that I make available via our LMS. They’re pretty comprehensive, and I definitely feel they’ve been a success in promoting student engagement and discussion during lecture. I’ve gotten flack from my colleagues for this (and in my humble opinion, not for any good reason at all, other than my favorite “this is just how it’s done” argument), but I even go as far as saying that my students should try to listen to me more, engage in the class, and worry less about taking notes since I provide them. I tell them that if they can’t write what they feel they need to on a post-it note, they are trying to write down too much. I remind them that the term is notes, not transcripts. When did learning start requiring one to feverishly transcribe information? What percentage of your learning has taken place outside of a classroom? Did you take notes when you learned outside of the classroom?

    I’m part of the flipped classroom crowd. I'm definitely a proponent, but I can’t be sure my student population will read before coming to class. Therefore, I’ve 90-degreed my classroom, but I still need to present a bit. I should mention that I teach Anatomy and Physiology along with some other human science courses, as I know things can be different across campus.

    I’ll be honest. I’m nervous posting this, because I’m sure I’ll get lambasted (specifically about taking notes) as I have from colleagues when I’ve talked about this. There seems to be an adherence to tradition in academia that trumps most other things – an adherence to “this is how it’s always been done, and will always be done” that is surprising. That being said, I’d like to hear what others think. How have you beefed up your lectures, and specifically your presentations? Do you think I’m totally off base here?

    (Image accessed and linked from http://www.whitman.edu/rhetoric/110-pages/0-powerpoint-tips.htm)

Comments

8 comments
  • Melissa  Hudler
    Melissa Hudler Here's a relevant article: http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-professor-blog/tips-for-developing-students-note-taking-skills/. It mentions the practice of giving students your notes and/or ppt. slides. I used ReadrBoard to comment on specific p...  more
    November 25, 2013
  • Rich Olexa
    Rich Olexa Unfortunately, I could not see your notes. The link appears to be a clean link to faculty focus. Maybe ReadrBoard requires a url that superimposes the comments? The article itself is definitely on point with one aspect of what I'm talking about. However, ...  more
    November 25, 2013 - 2 like this
  • Melissa  Hudler
    Melissa Hudler Rich, thanks for letting me know about the comments. I'm not sure how to fix that since I'm new to ReadrBoard. Oh well! I wonder if the source article would answer your questions (I haven't read it). For thinking to occur during note-taking, students have...  more
    November 25, 2013 - 1 likes this
  • Melissa  Hudler
    Melissa Hudler I should have added in my previous comment that, for me, guiding students in their note taking means to tell them to just listen for a few minutes and then to ask them what they found most important in that bit of information and proceed from there. It's ...  more
    November 25, 2013 - 1 likes this

Comments