As we discussed in class today, PowerPoint (or Keynote) is a teaching technology that you need to be able to use — often almost a requirement in a faculty job interview.
We started our discussion of PowerPoint with a human continuum activity in the college courtyard. A human continuum is a class activity where students take a position on a continuum to represent their views on a particular issue.
I first asked the class to take a position based on how much PowerPoint had been used in the classes they had taken as college students. Two took the position that PowerPoint was used in almost every class they had taken. Two took the position that no PowerPoint had been used in college classes they had taken. Everyone else was spread along the line, with most saying that PPT had been used in about half of their classes.
The next question was to indicate by their position on the line how effectively PowerPoint had been used. One or two took the stand that PowerPoint had been used very well. Everyone else was positioned to indicate that PowerPoint had been just so-so.
Back in the classroom, we discussed the pros and cons of PowerPoint.
PowerPoint can help students take notes more effectively. PPT can help the teacher be more organized and on track.
PowerPoint can become tedious. Some teachers use PowerPoint as a crutch.
I recommended Nancy Duarte’s Slide-ology: The Art and Science of Making Great Presentations. The book provides great advice about creating slides that help strengthen one’s presentation — whether making a pitch to a potential client or teaching class.
The class and I discussed several of her tips:
* Not including too much text on a slide. She calls those text-heavy slide “teleprompters,” as they become scripts for the teacher/presenter.
* Selecting a color combination of background and type that is easy to read. For teachers, try out a slide in your classroom, as the readability of a slide on a big screen may be different from your laptop screen.
* Selecting a font and point size that makes the words easy to read. In a larger class, be sure to move to the back of the room to determine that the font is large enough.
* Recognizing the power of a good visual. In some cases, the visual is all you need on the slide. Your comments and/or the resulting discussion prompted by the visual will develop in connection with the visual.