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Tuesday, 6 September 2016

PowerPoint ban

An article in The Conversation suggest that PowerPoint presentations are not sufficiently flexible for lectures.

Let’s ban PowerPoint in lectures – it makes students more stupid and professors more boring

There are a host of possible reasons for a lecture going wrong: a badly planned course, inadequate preparation, feeling uninspired on the day, disengaged students, a crowd that’s too big, a poorly designed auditorium. To this bulleted list of catastrophes comes PowerPoint.


I have designed a number of PowerPoint presentations and recall sitting through quite a few more, but ten years on I don't remember the content of a single one. Long term impact - zero. Transparencies and overhead projectors were worse though. 

The article attracted some interesting comments. I like this one from Hugh McLachlan, Professor of Applied Philosophy, Glasgow Caledonian University.

This is a very good article. I agree strongly with it. Lectures should be, at the very least, performances. PowerPoint tends to come between the performer and the audience. Powerpoint is more suited to presentations where, for instance, someone is trying to sell insurance and wants to make some specified points. A lecture should be an engagement between the lecturer and the audience. Switch the machinery off before you start the lecture. The students will be grateful.

Education is more akin to show business than it is to the sale of insurance policies - or it should be.

7 comments:

Michael said...

One of my best chums left his job because he was required to subscribe to Death by Powerpoint...

I tried using it once, and said in one miserable page "I'll go straight to my own contacts..."

And the guy half-listening asked me if I had 'form'..;0)

Nice guy, funny joke, stupid presentation - but I needed the money..!

Demetrius said...

In the beginning was the word.....

A K Haart said...

Scrobs - ditching your job over PowerPoint is a new one for me. It is okay for showing graphs and so forth, but with hindsight it is over-used.

Demetrius - the universe may be a vast PowerPoint presentation.

DCBain said...

few things are as stultifying as being read, image by image, the exact contents of a Pisspoorpoint presentation.

A K Haart said...

DCB - I agree and I'm not sure why we relied on it so much.

duffandnonsense said...

I disagree, er, sort of! But I totally agree with DCBain that lecturers who spend the entire time reading what they have written on the PP screen should be charged with inflicting 'cruel and unusual punishment'.

I give lectures to suckers, ooops, sorry, I mean clubs and social groups on the subject of military history and I can tell you that a well-designed PP presentation used carefully and occasionally is worth a thousand words. At certain points I introduce loud gunfire which also serves to wake up the dozy old gits who are starting to nod off!

A K Haart said...

David - I'm sure you add in some theatre and the PP is merely a prop. Many don't do that.