Monday, March 22, 2010

The PowerPoint Coma

Lately I have observed my students entering a state of mind I like to call the "PowerPoint Coma." As soon as I throw some slides up on the screen their eyes glaze over while their pens continue to move, taking down the required notes.

PowerPoint used to be a cutting edge technology. If you wanted to be hip, you used PowerPoint. It has been overuse and abused to a point that it is essentially useless for communicating effectively. My students now pay more attention to a physical object held in my hand than they will to a PowerPoint slide.

In a previous post I shared my first attempt at using Prezi to create a presentation. I love it! Prezi provides a different perspective on presentations. I haven't used it in class with my students yet, but I'm planning on it.

At the beginning of each month I lead "Tuesday Tech Training" with the staff at my school. I have touched on a variety of topics through out the year including email, Google Search, Google Docs, etc. In April I am scheduled to do a session on PowerPoint. Many of my teachers think that PowerPoint is a cutting edge technology. I'd like to introduce them to some other options. What PowerPoint alternatives (in addition to Prezi) would you recommend? What have you found effective with your students or staff?

Photo Credit: Shareski

14 comments:

  1. I like your point here, but instead I would focus on the fact that students gravitate toward you holding an object in your hand. YES! We ought to start our instruction as concrete as possible. If I teach about rocks without having kids play with rocks, I have not done a very good job. Then after students have experience, then I can move to more abstract representations of the concepts: video, then pictures, finally, text.

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  2. I think you make a good point. In fact, I've found students pay more attention using an old fashioned overhead projector that you write on! The act of writing draws attention.
    But as far as what technology works, isn't it also the case that if the kids are using the powerpoint, it works for them? When the technology is in the hands of the kids, they do pay attention. In other words, the same old tried-and-true techniques work, with technology sometimes as value added: socratic method; project-based instruction; hands on learning; engaging demonstration.

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  3. I don't think I could get our staff away from Power Point (we only have one projector per grade level on a cart), but I'm going to be trying to talk them into making slides without much text and using CC licensed media in a presentation I'm giving tomorrow.

    I'm also going to show Scott Elias' Presentation on Presenting tomorrow with our staff. It's worth the 18 minutes: http://www.slideshare.net/selias22/taking-your-slide-deck-to-the-next-level

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  4. Thanks, again. It is imperative that teacher's feel comfortable teaching utilizing modern technology. Great work.

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  5. I agree about Powerpoint, the thing I dislike the most is doing CPD involving someone reading a powerpoint to me. I have used Prezi with my class and they loved it, with some children making their own Prezi at home. Here is a link to an example of someone using prezi to tell stories which is a great idea.

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  6. Sorry, forgot to post the link. Here it is.
    http://trailsoptional.wordpress.com/2010/03/14/digital-storytelling-with-prezi/

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  7. As a student I can agree with you. When a teacher turns on the power point my mind tends to wonder from the subject. I'm an Elementary education major at USA. I think the trick of it is to find out how to be entertaining with your powerpoints. Try to add some audacity with attention catching music to start your introduction to your subject. Use some off key phrases like (funky fresh fractions)to grab them. Even it does seem a little whacky it just makes it fun. This is just my point of view as a student and future teacher. Hope it helps. Im going to go look at prezi.


    Thank You,
    Betty Cernosek
    EDM310
    University of South Alabama

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  8. My name is Kimberly McNorton and I am a student at the University of South Alabama in Dr. Strange's EDM 310 class. I was told to read and comment on your blog for three weeks. I will post all the comments on my blog on or before April 11. My blog is http://mcnortonkedm310.blogspot.com
    I would recommend using things on the powerpoint to get their attention such as animated pictures. As an alternative to powerpoints, I would do more hands on activities with the kids.

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  9. It is recommended that when using a PPT in instruction, each slide should contain no more than 6 lines of text. In addition, font size, color, style and the use of animations (drop in, fly in, etc.) should not be distracting. And as far as the presenter's (the teacher, not the projector) role, don't just read what's on the slide. We all know how mundane and unnecessary that is. I use PPT a lot and stil believe it is a great tool for instruction. We just have to keep in mind that its capabilities are much more than just saving us from writing these notes on the board over and over for each class.

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  10. I observe a lot of teachers using power point and I agree that for students, it's lost its luster. However, part of that is the lecture as well. I think a better prepared, purposeful lecture, would make the power point better. I find that kids love visuals from Power Points, but teachers still act as if Power Point slides are a limit resource and past 5 small pictures on one slide instead of one per slide.

    For students, I like challenging them to present a topic in 5 minutes, with only 20 slides, and the slides have to advance automatically every 15 seconds. The method is online, not my invention. Great way for kids to learn speaking skills.

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  11. PhotoStory is a great tool to use and you can also record your voice and design background music. My 6th grade students have enjoyed creating Photo Stories instead of creating Power Points to present their research. We recently designed Photo Stories which play as wmv file on Windows Media Players to celebrate the end of the Olympics and our unit on Canada! The presentations went very smoothly, especially for the students who recorded over theirs using microphones and headphones!

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  12. I've used PhotoStory as well. It has its limitations, but one of the reasons I like it is that it's simple. Students aren't overwhelmed with editing options. I was disappointed to learn that Microsoft has discontinued the development of PhotoStory. Save your old version!

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  13. VISUALS. If have black text on a white background, this induces powerpoint coma in the ADD ridden population. My theory is that since the advent of television, parents have used it to babysit their kids in copious amounts, thus causing the brain's neurons to only fire when stimulated visually with colors and fast moving graphics. This is why kids can't pay attention to a chalkboard or a book. Add graphics.......

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  14. Powerpoint helps you on some things you dont understand like having a small video in it will help the students learn a bit more about the topic otherwise they might just slump off and fall asleep and it may be boring for you as well using other sources to teach them. I would recommend that powerpoint is the best way to help the learn a thing in an easiest and fastest way possible.

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