kitchen table math, the sequel: what's wrong with Power Point

Saturday, February 28, 2009

what's wrong with Power Point

a comment posted about Frank Cardulla's high school chemistry course at The Great Teaching Company:
"I bought this course to help my oldest son in his high school chemistry class. I had a tough time convincing him to view the videos so I decided that it might be better if I viewed them first and then used what I learned to tutor him. It worked like a charm. I would bring my personal DVD player each day on my workouts and finished the whole series in about two weeks. It gave me everything that I needed to help my son do better. Honestly, as a college instructor myself I found it refreshing that he made extensive use of the paper and easel. It was a nice relief from the PowerPoint "poisoning" that we are often subjected to in modern day classrooms and board rooms. It also was good to see how he slowly built up to the solution of a problem rather than simply magically having the answer appear in pretty text on the screen. This course was an absolute joy. If there is ever another course produced by him in the future I will be sure to buy it."

PowerPoint isn't writing


Anonymous said...

I don't know about high schools, but in college science teaching, we're seeing a power point backlash. I've never liked it or used it but for a while it seemed like everyone else was heading that way.

A year or so ago, we hired a new organic instructor. None of the three interviewees used powerpoint for their mock lecture -- two used the board and one wrote on overheads. All agreed that they'd found powerpoint to be ineffective, even in organic which is a very visual field (but where it is helpful for students to SEE how to draw molecules).

Anonymous said...

The problem with PP is not PP. It's the damn bullets.

When you use it for visual impact you're in its sweet spot. When you use it for words you're in hell.

I use it for pictures not for words. A typical 3-5 minute presentation might have 30 slides with pictures, animation, and maybe 20 words (including the title and the End).

It's really hard to pull off live because you want the pictures timed perfectly to what you are saying. I'm no good at live. What I do is narrate with an audio editor and perfect the slide to audio timing. Then I put the whole thing in a flash movie.

I read somewhere (memory fails me) that reading is processed through the speech processing part of your brain. So when you present words on slides you create a processing conflict in your audience. They have to chose between listening to you and reading the slides. If you only put up pictures, the audience can parallel process pictures and sound.

I've done some of these in class and the kids yell at each other to shut up so they can hear the audio. That has never, ever, happened during a lecture. I keep the volume low on purpose, heh, heh.

I really believe we need to think more like advertisers. In some sense they are competing for our kids attention. You can't grab 'em with blah, blah, blah.