An interesting study finds that written PowerPoint slides actually hinder learning (something I've always wondered about). Powerpoint bad for brains - Menace of slideware


"The use of the PowerPoint presentation has been a disaster," Professor Sweller said. "It should be ditched."

"It is effective to speak to a diagram, because it presents information in a different form. But it is not effective to speak the same words that are written, because it is putting too much load on the mind and decreases your ability to understand what is being presented."

Patty, Anna. Sydney Morning Herald. April 4, 2007. http://www.smh.com.au/news/technology/powerpoint-presentations-a-di...
[April 9, 2007]

How are you using PowerPoint? How are your students using it? How do you help them avoid the "sweller effect?"

Tags: Powerpoint

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OK. Wow. I'm glad I have spring break this week so I can completely rethink my presentations for my next unit. I had gotten a clue about this when my students effectively tuned me out during any power point presentation that I gave earlier this year. Thanks for sharing this!
Yep, Powerpoint can be, and often is, awful! On the other hand, it can keep a wandering presenter from straying too far from their point (using the vibrate feature on a presenter as a timer for each slide is helpful, too). It can help a student who needs the visual to peg onto the auditory. I agree with someone who said if you would have put it on an overhead in the old days, then maybe it is ok (a graph, something visually succinct). Also, I like guidelines for slides like "use words, not sentences"; "pictures rather than words"; "use it to introduce the speaker or the next thing to listen to" (a slide saying only "My Main Point" rather than giving the point)... But, we are all fascinated with Powerpoint, and my middle school students would write novels on them. I hope that we help them get over the novelty, and use a more critical judgement, as we expose them to good and bad. And have them make and present to their peers. I think their presentations show improvement as they gain experience.

The only power points I myself use are ones like "Did you Know" for transitions, and one other: a great explanation of the Caveman theory of the Dewey Decimal System (for which students have handouts and specific information to record).
The teachers in my grad school class were all agog when I told them that I thought PowerPoint was evil. I wrote this for them in my class blog:

Why Powerpoint is Evil

I do *not* use PowerPoint in class because my classes are all at a distance. I don't use it when I make a presentation as a rule. There have been some exceptions and everytime I make an exception, I regret it. I don't ask my students to use it, in fact, I discourage my students FROM using it. That's just me. And remember, my students are K-12 teachers looking for a Master's degree, not kids in elementary or secondary school.

There *are* some good Powerpoint examples:

Takahashi Method : It works for Japanese where a single character is both word and picture. I've tried these with single words in English. It's not so pretty, but it's better than the normal word-glut.

Dick Hardt's presentation on Identity 2.0 is a classic. You have to watch it to really see how it goes. The information on identity and credentials is good, but watch it for the technique.

Laurence Lessig is probably the modern master of Powerpoint and Dick Hardt lists him as an influence on his presentation style.

The point is Presentation is Performance. Too often we use Powerpoint to distract from performance by putting the action on the screen instead of in the minds of the audience.

Your Mileage May Vary.
I like the concept of Presentation as Performance since it puts creative power in the hands of the creator/artist/presenter and PP may be just one tool of the trade (overused as it is). Too often, we let our tools take over our intentions and allow the limitations of those tools to dictate how we create. (I won't use the term Think out of the Box, but you can see where that phrase came from -- probably somebody who was just sick and tired of seeing the same idea over and over again, just dressed up differently)
Kevin
It is worth noting that John Sweller is credited with developing Cognitive Load Theory, worth looking into for this discussion.

It is true that reading the slides causes too much load on working memory. Ineffective presentations can also cause students to think in bullet points, taking them away from higher order thinking.

I am going to try and embed a slideshare I did for the College of William & Mary regarding presentation techniques. If it doesn't work, you can use this link...

http://www.slideshare.net/cmcraft/dont-read-to-me-a-presentation-on...


Ok it did work I think. Cool...
Elizabeth, great post. Generally, I think it is the overuse of presentations that is a problem and the examples of effective use by other posters are valid. What I want to add is not about teachers using presentations and resultant cognitive overload but student use.

Presentations are overused in the elementary and middle school classroom where kids create their digital reports as presentations and teachers think that this is somehow superior to the written report. If all they are doing is copying and pasting the text of the traditional report into the presentation that's a big waste of tim. If the presentation is taught as another means of representing information, with effective visuals (charts or otherwise) then it makes some sense to use them.

One of the best uses of presentations is in teaching visual literacy. Asking kids to decide which visuals/images enhance understanding as opposed to just plugging in an image for the sake of having it supports higher order thinking and ultimately can enhance visual literacy. The use of bullets and the necessity of concise language in the form of short phrases supports note taking and summarizing, both difficult concepts for kids.

Like many things tech, its the manner in which it is used that determines its effectiveness or ineffectiveness.

Another critic of PP is Edward Tufte, author of "Envisioning Information" and "The Visual Display of Quantitative Information." His critical essay is titled, "The Cognitive Style of Powerpoint, Pitching Out Corrupts Within." http://www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/books_pp
All these links are great! One other article specific to school use of PowerPoint is from Gary Stager at District Administration magazine, Pointing in the Wrong Direction.
There has been a good balance of responses here that highlight both the good and the bad. The article which persuaded me is by Doug Johnson http://www.education-world.com/a_tech/columnists/johnson/johnson003...
I love his first point- power point does not bore people, people bore people.
Productivity applications tend to be neutral ...it is all about how we use them and I think we need to teach effective use of the right tool for the right purpose....
I find that students in our middle school and Junior High need a lot of work on their oral presentation skills and we use power point to help facilitate this and to help them be clear and concise in their slides.
Yeah, I'm needing to move away from this. It's my natural inclination to have my chat match the slide. There has been talk for years (before this study) about not having your patter match your slide (you elaborate). Thank you for reminding me of this, and I promise to do better.
At the college I go to, powerpoints seem to be the main thing teachers use to teach their lessons. Powerpoints are good tools to present main ideas and place them all in one spot; it serves as a good guideline for the presenter so they can stay on topic. However, powerpoints are really boring. They don't promote any interaction in the audience and all you're doing is reading words on a giant screen. It's like a giant, electronic textbook.
That was exactly the point I was trying to make on the other thread http://www.classroom20.com/forum/topics/is-technology-essential-to

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