There have been a bevy of posts recently in the blogosphere about PowerPoint (or maybe I should say “PowerPoint-less?”) Honestly I’m tired of reading about bad powerpoints, though I do realize many have much to learn about using this presentation tool effectively. I’m embarrassed to remember many of my own ppts as I recognize now that I too have created MANY that were lousy.
As I have sat through & endured many presentations or meetings that were guided or directed by a PowerPoint, fighting with all my might the glazed look I knew was overcoming me, I’ve realized that a PowerPoint is not the most effective tool to garner support, make a point, demonstrate concept mastery, or even teach.
And while we are trying to find ways to integrate technology into the curriculum, I do not encourage the use of PPT as a way to show that technology is being used in the classroom, either by the leader learner or novice learners. (NOTE: I am removing the “t” word from my vocabulary, or trying to anyway.)
Recently my district was having the finalists for our superintendent tour schools as they were in session. The candidate who was hired was asked right after the tour to share thoughts on what was seen, and this one expressed dismay at the lack of tech integration or visible active engagement in the classrooms, and that a lot of what was seen included students “sitting and getting” (my words). This candidate said all of this BEFORE being hired, mind you. When I heard this I told close friends she would get the job, as that was very brave and daring, and showed she wanted to make things better. She was announced as the candidate awarded the job recently. I say bravo for having the nerve to call a spade a spade, and not sugar coating hard valid evidence just to win favor with our board who would make the final selections. The observation was made as a need that the candidate could and would address if hired.
In reflecting now, I think PowerPoints reinforce that “sit and get” mentality, and I really struggle to bite my tongue when learners ask assistance with their powerpoints they are so proud of. All I can do is envision the glazed looks or worse, the laughing at (not with) final presentations of projects. Middle school learners are very unforgiving with opinions when it comes to their peers. Of course I have tried to talk about the content on their slides, but the particular project I am reflecting on was assigned without collaborating with me.
So I expect many frustrations to be expressed when these presentations are given in class. I also expect evidence of disinterest and boredom, on both sides of the college degree.
What to do? Find a way to enlighten my learners about what an effective visual presentation looks like, and model, model, model. I am asking today for fiftten minutes to share about ‘bad” presentations for our next staff meeting, and b/w now and then seeking informal collaborative moments to have frank conversations with those assigning PowerPoints. I can’t think of anything else to do. (I think it would not go over well t just email links to blogs about it, though some of the posts recently have had good references to videos and other blogs that offer good advice on the do’s and don’ts–an email can be easily taken out of context, or worse, taken offense to.) I hope this works. I’m tired of seeing students like the ones I’ve pictured here. I’m tired of feeling that way myself.
Image: ‘slightly bored again‘