Thursday, October 21, 2010

Powerpoint Poisoning

I found myself nodding my head in agreement a lot while reading "Scoring Power Points" by Jamie McKenzie. He brought up a Dilbert comic in which people are dropping like flies due to "powerpoint poisoning," which I found pretty funny. Bad powerpoints are truly painful to sit through.

"Powerpointlessness" means exactly what you think it means. It refers to powerpoints that essential get in the way of education. They are either too bland and add nothing to the lesson, or they are too distracting with irrelevant information or visuals. A powerpoint can become a gimmick that yields no learning. I've witnessed this in a class in college. The professor "used" powerpoint during his lectures, but the powerpoint often did not have much to do with his lecture. It was distracting and confusing!

So do we throw powerpoint out altogether? McKenzie doesn't think so. He offers a list of "Antidotes for Powerpoint Poisoning." One very important idea for encouraging students to create good powerpoints is giving them a rubric. Being familiar with the expectations always helps students to produce a quality presentation.

McKenzie also brings up a great point that "the best presentation is the most persuasive, not the most dazzling." Sometimes we get so caught up in making cool-looking transitions that we forget about the actual content! It's important to remember the purpose of powerpoint is to be an effective aid or side-kick, not to distract the learners with flashy transitions. It is, however, to the creator's advantage to weed through "blah" clip-art and find powerful images that fit with the presentation. One more key element to a good presentation is the presenter, of course! Know the content, be engaging, and have good eye contact.

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