Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Teaching tips - PowerPoint

I have just been given a link to a discussion about using technological tools to enhance teaching - Effective Use of Technology In the Classroom?' I was particularly interested to see the discussion about the use of PowerPoint. I must admit I use it a lot because it acts as a framework for my talk and reminds me what I need to say. It is also an easy way to display graphics which is handy if I am trying to explain a practical topic eg what a baby birthing in water looks like. I always make my slides available to students so they do not need to be scribbling madly throughout the session. Nevertheless, I am conscious that PowerPoint can be used to disguise a bad talk ie it doesn't matter how fancy the slide show is if you have nothing decent to say. It also really drives me mad when people add a whole load of fancy animation, which makes it difficult to concentrate on the subject matter. I have never forgotten a session I ran when I suddenly lost my access to PowerPoint so I was driven back to using the good old white board. That session went so well - the students really enjoyed it because I was a lot more inclusive than I usually was when working with PowerPoint - a salutary lesson!

For another view of PowerPoint, have a look at what Edward Tufte has to say about it in his article 'PowerPoint is evil'. Whilst I would not agree with his position because I believe PP has its benefits, I would recommend that you use it with caution. These would be my hints for using PowerPoint.

1. Don't use font any smaller than size 24/28
2. Do not use animation, and if you do, check the timing so it is not too slow ( or too fast, for that matter).
3. Keep the number of slides to the minimum.
4. Do not pack your whole talk onto slides - just pick out the main points and summarize them on the slides.

Be glad to hear of any other tips for using PowerPoint

1 comment:

Carolyn McIntosh said...

Yes! this makes me think. Power point can be such a great thing and it is quite seductive really. However I do wonder if it limits participation by the students and it annoys me having to darken the room on a lovely sunny day to run a power point. I will need to think about using the whiteboard I think.
I too have moved away from animating power points and now find this really annoying. I only use this feature for a particularly important point, ot to bring in a graphic. It seemed such fun when we first started using the tool.