Get off my lawn. And take PowerPoint with you.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011
So here I am in my data networking class. Yesterday the class was based on 179 PowerPoint slides. Today's deck has 190 slides.

You know, I used to be a technical instructor, both in the Navy and for my company. In neither of those jobs did I use PowerPoint to discuss the concepts of the class - I used a student guide, a white board, and a lab. I found these tools perfectly adequate to teach the skills in my curriculum, and in fact, the white board was highly conducive to discussion and interactive response with my audience.

But every class I've attended in the last 5+ years, both at University and in my profession, has included pages and pages of excruciating PowerPoint, with each template more gaudy and eye-bleeding than the last. In my experience, the use of this Thor-forsaken application reduces discussion, puts students to sleep, and serves only to deaden the learning experience to some sort of drone-like Stepford Wife existence.

So why is it so ubiquitous? It makes absolutely no sense to me, but perhaps that's because my mental acuity has been dulled by the hundreds of slides that are now burned into my retina.

12 comments:

John the Scientist said...

By a great coincidence, I'm in a training session, too, and we just discussed this very point. The presenter claimed that there is research to show that talking alone gives greater memory retention than using words on PP slides. Using good visuals in PP actually enhances memory.

I'm in a highly complicated techincal field where data must be presented graphically. Slides are essentiual to our communication. But the ones with the words are just useless if all the presenter does in read the slides.

And the template colors have to be chosen with the variations in quality of projectors in mind.

Warner (aka ntsc) said...

What John said about the colors, usually two colors different in hue, but the same in saturation.

THAT CAN NOT BE DIFFERENTIATED AT A DISTANCE.

Steve Buchheit said...

I believe you answered your own question in the post. Your presentations actually accomplished something and engaged the participants. The ones you're experiencing now put you to sleep and end up dulling the issue and lowering retention. That might be the point.

WendyB_09 said...

Once again I wrote a brilliant response and Blogger ate it when I hit Publish. I may or may not have time to recreate later as lunch is now over.

tessifie = when I beat Blogger into submission I will tessifie that it was in self-defense.

Random Michelle K said...

It's because people 1) Don't know how to fucking use PPT and 2) Don't fucking know how to fucking train.

PPT is a guide that saves you, the presenter, from having to write down major topic points, and to keep you from going to far astray. It should be an OUTLINE. You should NOT be FUCKING TEACHING FROM IT.

You should ALSO be INTERACTING with the students AS YOU FUCKING TEACH.

Believe it or not, PPT actually has functionality that allows you to use it like a whiteboard. To, you know, increase interaction.

GOD I hate people that can't teach or present.

I bet these wonders stood behind the podium the entire time, and spoke in a monotone as well.

Yeah, anyone can fucking be a teacher my ASS.

Random Michelle K said...

Sorry.

Sore spot there.

Janiece said...

Didn't mean to get you wrapped around the axle, Michelle. :-)

Vagabond said...

Janiece, you of all people should know how PPT became the bane of human existence. It started as an experiment by the Department of Defense (where any group of three people or larger are constrained by regulation from conversing without PPT), seeking to find the lowest possible IQ a human can possess and still proctor a briefing or class. Predictably, the experiment went awry due to those dastardly military scientists twisting and corrupting PPT from its original, intended uses, and now PPT is on the verge of starting a worldwide zombie apocalypse. Damn DoD.

Phiala said...

I use PowerPoint a lot, and did when I was teaching.

(Okay, these days I use Beamer/LaTeX/Sweave, but same net effect.)

But I show: keywords, graphics, photos, charts, diagrams. As few words as possible, just enough to keep me and my audience oriented. When I go to seminars & such, I like having that sort of reference.

Under no circumstances whatsoever should anyone ever ever ever put their entire presentation in words on the slides and read it.

There's also a tradeoff between what I consider good presentation practices and the standards for my field: I do some things I'm not fond of because my audience expects them.

The Mechanicky Gal said...

What Michelle said.
And were they "hand-washers"?

www.guccihandbagsoutlet.org said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Janiece said...

*TONG*