(541) Interactive PowerPoint Presentations

Reflecting over the past week and the multiple readings and short videos, I am firm in my belief that PowerPoint presentations are inherently a good thing…when designed correctly.   What I mean by this vague thought is simply that- PowerPoint’s have multiple advantages as a teaching tool in the classroom if the teacher is able to make the best out of such technology.

I currently teach Geography and History of the World to primarily freshmen and Sophomore students.  Some of these students have low reading and writing levels, are insecure about life or are unmotivated at the best of times.  While my class is built around project based learning, PowerPoint’s serve as a connection between one idea and the next.  In the past, I have used PowerPoint’s to transition students which ultimately guides them through a unit of content.  If you have ever built a barbed-wire fence before, you know that the fence posts must be dug pretty deep.  To connect each post together, barbed wire is used as a defense mechanism to deter people.   Projects are similar to the fence posts- allowing students to go much deeper with their knowledge, while PowerPoint’s act like the barbed wire- knowledge doesn’t go very deep at all but it moves learning along until another project is created or fence post needs to be dug.

There are numerous benefits to PowerPoint presentations and because of this I am listing the ons that I know to be most beneficial to me and therefore have experience with:

1. Supports the speaker.

Often times, the speaker uses the presentation software to deliver information.  The listeners see: the spelling of a word, and images, charts and graphs that enhance the speakers delivery.  When done correctly, the presentation has the ability to “drive home points with images and sound.” (Robyler, Doering 2010)

2. Organizes the topic.

“When teachers or students create a presentation with this software, it helps them think through what they will say and in what order they should present the information.”  (Robyler, Doering 2010)  Assigning presentations to students gives them experience organizing their information in a systematic and succinct way.  Teachers can also design PowerPoints with organization in mind in order to draw from prior knowledge.

3. Inserting live URL’s

Presentations have the capability to connect to the internet.  As a teacher I use this function as much as I can in order to make the presentation interactive for the students.  It is not uncommon for me to post the PowerPoint on the classroom website.  I ask the students to go on to the website and go through the presentation themselves as a way for them to learn at their own pace.  I ensure that video clips, sound bites, images are embedded and that students can click on specific links to learn more about a person, idea or thing.  I can also link other software or documents to the PowerPoint, connecting even more resources for the student to gain knowledge from.

4. Fun and engaging designs.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that designing presentation slides can be fun and, if done correctly, serves as another way to drive the point home with a decorative background, font selection and color.  I have seen a fair amount of presentations in my time (both through employment and educational endeavors) and the ones I remember the most are the ones that were fun, fresh and innovative.  Of course, a cool design does not constitute an amazing presentation, but it does make for a more enjoyable learning experience.

There are plenty of online sites that discuss the relative advantage of using presentation software in the classroom.  Here are some websites that are useful in carrying on the conversation about Presentation Software:

http://www.knd.com.au/12-ways-to-embarrass-yourself-with-powerpoint/

http://technologysource.org/article/using_powerpoint_presentations_in_writing_classes/

http://www.skillsheets.com/docs/F-Presentation/F5_(Dis)advantages%20PowerPoint.pdf

http://www.d.umn.edu/~jgallian/goodPPtalk.pdf

Resources:

Roblyer, M. D., and A. Doering. Integrating educational technology into teaching . 5th ed. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2010. Print.

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