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ETEC511: Foundations of Educational Technology

Week 2 – PowerPointless

My colleagues never use PowerPoint or even an overhead projector. They teach in a traditional way, using a chalkboard. Their hands and clothes are often covered with white chalk powder. They are wonderful and experienced educators but I felt their traditional approach—writing on a blackboard, erasing, then writing again—sometimes makes the students’ learning experience slower and less efficient. The reason they do not use PowerPoint or any other technology is very simple; they’d rather focus their efforts on their lesson plans than learning how to use PowerPoint. It’s their choice not to use PowerPoint, which I have no objection against.

I also had a few opportunities to observe classes at a different university. There, to the contrary, the teachers use PowerPoint a lot, actually they ONLY use PowerPoint in class. The pace of their teaching is much faster and they show explanations and images as if they were flashcards. Although the class seemed impressively organized, I had one big problem:

I almost fell asleep.

It was embarrassing but I couldn’t help. It was not because the class was boring, but just because PowerPoint makes me sleepy.

I recall the same thing happened in class when I was a student; PowerPoint always made me sleepy because I think PowerPoint makes students more passive and less interactive. And yes, the room is dark or half lit.

In light of those experiences, this week’s article about PowerPoint was very interesting. They state that “PowerPoint does not impact academic achievement” but “there is an appreciable increase in positive feelings toward instructors using PowerPoint,” (Adams, 2008).  Although many people use PowerPoint now, I believe that PowerPoint still has the “power” to impress people; however, that power, interestingly, does not necessarily improve students’ academic performance. PowerPoint is great software and can make the lecture seem organized and attractive, but it can become dull if not accompanied by other tools in class. That’s ironic, isn’t it?

Reference:

Adams, C. (2008). The poetics of PowerPoint. Explorations in Media Ecology, 7(4), 283–289.

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