I seriously would like the input of my education colleagues. I considered setting up a Google form or wiki to collect these ideas, but today’s blog will allow the comments of the reader to be collected and use as a threaded discussion.

Now, my Linda Richman-esq topic, “Powerpoint- A visual distractant to the audial delivery of content or a organized standalone textual-delivery vehicle. Discuss.”

A great co-worker of mine was using a number of great resources to support his workshop about how to make Powerpoint presentations better by effectively telling the story through graphic images and taking out many of the bulleted lists and long paragraphs associated with many of the presentations we see. Many of the entertaining (while still very much making their points) technology speakers use many full-screen graphics that make us laugh. The point behind the full-screen graphic is made by the speaker, not the slide.

Underscoring John Medina’s Brain Rules, people are more often turning to the visual to help impact the oral delivery– and that does make sense to me.  We watch, we imprint the visual and hopefully retain the oral. Multimodal learning has proven to help provide significant gains over traditional learning.

With all of that on the table, why do I have a problem with it? I have two problems. 1) Teaching students to create these visually heavy presentations can lead to weaker presentation products. 2) Sharing these pretty presentations can often leave the recipient holding fluff and no meat.  (Please remember the word ‘can’ in both sentences.)

Students learning Powerpoint often cram too much information into their slides. But, that information is evidence of their research or explanation of their topic.  To teach students to strip away text for the proven graphic delivery technique may make their presentation more ‘effective’, but as a student knowledge delivery product, it will be weakened.  This would be a non-issue for me if students were required to leave in the text, but place it in the ‘presenter notes’ section or if the presentation was accompanied by text reference document.

My other problem is that we (adults) are making our presentations more ‘entertaining/graphic-heavy/text-lite’ and then state to our audience, “You can download my presentation afterwards”.  So, I end up downloading some nice graphics, but where’s the beef? How is my ADD (truly) brain supposed to relay the wonderful presentation with other teachers who didn’t hear the author’s oral presentation?  It would be wonderful if it were more of the standard that we adults actually start using the ‘presenter notes’ section so that I can be wow’ed visually and auditorally, and read the notes later to be more richly educated.

What my co-worker and I ended up with was the redefinition of ‘Powerpoint presentation’. There’s the graphical-backup-for-oral preso and the this-is-the-information-I-want-you-to-have preso.  Both have their place and thus users may have to plan their presentation accordingly. Or, one could always create two different presentation files, one to show live and one to post online.  I just think that it becomes more important with online posting that if we post a preso online, we must include the notes, concepts, or textual understanding also so that it’s not just a pretty set of graphics.

Okay Ms. Richman, “Discuss”.

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