A diatribe against power point in the classroom: what say you????

I ran across this well argued diatribe against power point in the classroom. It sounds about 80% right on to me.

Although, I think in the context of personally paced or independent learning the indict isn't quite as credible. Also, I think he fails to account for the way in which we all are visual learners.

Perhaps this is more an indictment of using power point as a crutch vs. using it as a tool

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A very interesting argument. I would also agree more than not. One would have to evaluate on PowerPoint effectiveness not "powerpointlessness". I've sat through lectures similar to what is described. The teacher simply reads monotonously from the screen. There is something ubiquitous about a teacher who intertwines PowerPoint visuals with good quality connected lecture.

I’m often puzzled when I see Higher Ed lectures be so effective without any technology. Our learning styles of yesteryear were very focused. Academicearth.org is a neat example of how higher ed can be efficient with little use of technology. We often overemphasize the need for technology and equate GOOD teaching with MORE technology. That often is not the case.

Unfortunately, and this is something that all teachers struggle with, effective professors/teachers subconsciously cater towards few learning styles. Powerpoints are quickly becoming outdated because they have become the standard. One thing that few teachers do in college is use projects to facilitate learning. Or, they use powerpoints at a very basic level. Online, there are so many ways of distributing information--google docs, prezi, even graphic organizers. Cooltoolsforschool.wikispaces.com has a fine collection of tools that can be used in the classroom. In my class, I find that using new tools keeps the students engaged in their independent learning styles. Using projects rather than lectures can also be very effectively used too.
Sounds to me like the guy is terrible at PowerPoint, honestly.

I think the problem is that PowerPoint, believe it or not, is still truly in the infancy stage. The vast majority of PowerPoint users today are like the early web users of the mid-90s. Do you remember what websites looked like then? They looked like a 12 year old's MySpace today. Pointless graphics, ridiculous backgrounds, annoying sounds, etc. That, in my view, is where PowerPoint still is today.

So yes, bad PowerPoint is bad. 3 bullets on a MS created background is no better than using an overhead projector (which I imagine the author has no problem with). Adding pointless glitz in the form of mid-90s web annoyances doesn't make it any better. However, when one understands that PowerPoint is a multimedia tool and a lecture enhancer it is incredibly powerful in the classroom.

I also have a serious problem with his comment that PowerPoint works as a crutch to keep the instructor off the stage. The next teacher I meet who doesn't want their students attention it will be the first. Maybe that is a college-level thing but I've never seen it among my colleagues. Even if this were a reality the simple fact is that PowerPoint, again used rightly, need not be the focus of the room. I regularly "black out" my slides and discuss the concepts. A simple tap of the B button on a keyboard puts the focus right back on the teacher or the students.
I think the crux of the issue lies not with the software, but with the teaching style/approach of the instructor. K-12 or Higher Ed, there are teachers that do not want to interact with their students. For them Powerpoint is a very good tool. It is (by it's own description) a presentation tool, thus used to present information to the students. I speak, you listen.

It is only when a teacher understands that the multimedia aspect of technology allows you to bring multiple discussion starters together in a single format (audio clips, images, videos, text, websites) but those are merely the launching points for the greater conversation and discussion amongst the class do you find teachers that are questioning the point of powerpoint. I have found that while a good presentation tool (I personally prefer Apple's Keynote) that I will use when presenting a keynote speech or a large room break-out at a conference, I would never use these tools for instructional purposes.

Now, yes I work for SMART, so I understand that people may view this comment as being biased, but I prefer SMART Notebook for my teaching purposes (I also did so when I was still in the classroom). The reason why is that while there is a presentation (full-screen) mode, the biggest powerful component at my disposal was the ability to add in new pages wherever I was in my presentation. This allowed me to capture the discussion that was going on in the classroom and keep it in the flow of the presentation so I truly had a synopsis of what that class period discussed, where the conversation took us, notes written in my own handwriting or graphics drawn by students illustrating points, etc.

Now, if you are a powerpoint person you're going to say We can insert slides into our powerpoints as well. And you're absolutely right, you can. But what I have seen over and over again is that teachers don't do it. They keep their "notes/presentation" as a pristine copy of what they want to say, and don't want to lose the attention of the students by stepping out of full-screen mode. Sometimes they will use whiteboards or pads of paper to capture the student's comments/discussions, but almost never do these notes get integrated back with the original powerpoint file, so in essence, you have lost the most important piece of the class period which is the discussion and you are just left with the notes that get recycled for the next year.

So, again..there is nothing inherently bad about Powerpoint (except Dad's Tie background) it is one more tool that teachers are increasingly having available to them (part of most district's standard productivity package). The issue lies more with the pedagogical design of the instruction as well as the professional development to help teachers understand that it is "one tool" not their "only tool". This goes a long way with technology and reaching out to the students of today..

I totally agree with you Kev, on all points. Let's not forget that some students also prefer to see main points in writing (some are dyslexic), others are visual types, not to mention that not everybody is English and it is easier to see new ideas and possibly new vocabulary written on a screen...

I wish Microsoft spent a little time updating poor PowerPoint however, it does look awfully outdated and static! Or maybe another company could produce a new software altogether. Prezi looks a lot more sophisticated, but I haven't used it yet, so I can't comment more on pros and cons.


I wouldn't take this article too seriously. It sounds like an excuse for not learning to use powerpoint and other technology tools to present one's subject. Certainly, there is no rule that requires the powerpoint to be presented in a darkened room that eliminates discussion. Certainly, presenting graphs and statistics can be done either on a powerpoint, or just who the excel, and manipulate the data while the students are watching. Statistics are not static. Further, the powerpoint makes it possible to share, good, clear photographs of the humanities the equal of which textbooks cannot duplicate.

Instead of complaining about the powerpoint, the man should be trying to use it SUCCESSFULLY. There is no rule that he has to do it exactly like someone else. He can add his own creativity to the process. But, it is a process, and it is time-consuming to create it effectively. But, it would be better spent time than writing a cranky article!

In the beginning there were only three literacy's, Writing, Oral and Visual. The 21st Century has seen the birth of the fourth literacy - Multi-media Literacy (ask the advertisers and music video makers they know all about it!). It seems that the author of this article, and many others like him, are illiterate in this new literacy. They fail to see the potential for breaking out of the confines of the simple paragraph and bringing the words to life through a Power Point Presentation (though I prefer Keynote, GO Mac).

I concede that the majority of the slide shows I have seen are generally rubbish, and often mildly insulting (Dear Mr Presenter, I can actually READ the text faster than you can drone it!!). However a good slide show embraces the potential of multi-media literacy allowing the insertion of pictures, animations, video,voice, sound and true interaction between the speaker, the audience and the tool. Maybe he should come and visit some of our senior students. They are learning how to present their research findings through the medium of a 5 Slide Challenge. The Rules: 5 Slides total, no more than 5 words per. page and no more than 5 minutes to present. And by Senior I mean Year Five and Six (9 and 10 year olds).

I use the same rule myself when presenting to other teachers, and while trying not to sound too pleased with myself I can confidently state that my Keynote Presentations enhance my message and enrich the presentation experience.
Tools can only do what they can do, and tool users should understand
1) what the tool CAN do
2) what they WANT to do
3) whether they CAN use the tool for WHAT they want.
4) if the answer to all 3 is a real, resounding YES!, then go on - use the tool to do it.

(And that's true of chalk, crayon, butcher's paper, OHP's, IWB's, worksheets, drama, debates, lectures, quizzes, celebrity heads games, role plays, thinking hats... as well as PowerPoint, Impress, Persuasion, MORE!, Keynote, PhotoStory.)
Which do you prefer- watch the movie? or Read the book? Do you need the movie to get the book? How does the Movie change the experience?

Reading is King. What does a lecture do for reading? If focused, on the presenter, do you need a slideshow? Sure, to illustrate some points. When conversing with others, do you need a powerpoint to assist the conversation? You might actually call up an article, photo, or application to illustrate it live. Other than that, would it be destracting from the presenter (person conversing with you)? Just a thought.
Have you ever met an oldster who merely described their grandchildren without pulling out pictures? Not often, I'd suspect. A picture is worth a thousand words.
Yes.. actually my Father is good at telling stories about our past deceased relatives and even stories of my Great grandparents that I never met. There aren't many pictures of them but yet I can see them. While I agree, pictures are great, I have way too many of my 5 and 7 year olds since they were tiny. In fact, I went as far as to video most of their lives. I'm about to spend the summer organizing the video on my 1 TB hardrive to make a comprehensible DVD for them. I hope to be done by the time they leave home. But I also can sit and talk about the past with my wife and it can be most effective. All I'm saying is that there is an element to connectiveness to an audience, as a presenter, that must be there first.
Which is why it's so silly that many/most modern speakers think a powerpoint (without notes) is equal to their session content!



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