death_by_powerpoint1

Death by PowerPoint… Also called the triple P (PowerPoint Paralysis, as explained on this blog), is one of the main factors of boring classes. There was a time when basic PowerPoint presentations were impressive, but with the evolution of interactive and dynamic presentations, these old PowerPoint presentations start to seem be old had. However, I think that Microsoft PowerPoint is still great software and can produce interesting presentation. The problem is that it has been misused. Many teachers simply put their course notes in a PowerPoint document in order to read them on the board. In this kind of situation, PowerPoint is used as a disguise and does not add any value to the content. I understand that it is an easy way to avoid giving paper notes and to easily slide different pages of notes, but what I suggest is trying to add elements that will truly be able to catch students’ attention and support their interest.

I read a great article written by Lisa Nielsen that shows a research made on some students. They had to listen to a video showing a ‘boring’ PowerPoint presentation and tell how they would feel if they were in this classroom. Their answers were:

  • I would feel I should just be able to read that paper to myself somewhere more comfortable.
  • I would feel bored to death.
  • I would feel wonder as to why I bothered coming to class.
  • I would feel like I was suffering.
  • I would feel like my time would be better spent reading a book on my e-reader.

The first answer is my favorite because I, as a student, had this reflection many times. Often, teachers will accept to send their PowerPoint to their students via Internet. If the PowerPoint is only the course content with a background, then students can easily believe that going to the lecture is unnecessary. On the other side, if a PowerPoint presentation is made interesting (by using tips like these), most of the information should be told in class and the PowerPoint should only by there to support course content that is taught orally.

Some teachers may say that they don’t have enough time to create good looking and relevant PowerPoint. My answer to them would be that there are several websites where teachers share their own PowerPoints presentation. For example, this page gives a bunch of presentations for English learners (adverbs, descriptive writing, adjectives, idiom, nouns, etc). On this kind of page, English teachers can find almost anything they need for basic content.

Of course, new tools are available to make great presentations and I’m the kind of person who likes to experiment new technologies, but for teachers who do not want to learn to use new software, I recommend visiting websites that gives advices for good presentations. Once again, here’s Lisa Neilsen blog link, one that is highly relevant.

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