PowerPoint or PowerNap?

Notebooks out, time to start class– another PowerPoint comes up. Is this what I’m paying tuition for? I don’t need a PhD instructor to read something I can read for myself. I don’t remember encountering this excessive amount of PowerPoint use in high school or earlier education. I think it’s important to remind instructors that students appreciate and really learn from engagement in discussions. It’s hard to get motivated to attend class when you know you’re not going to miss out on anything imperative and can just print out the PowerPoint’s on your own.

What’s interesting is that professors usually have strong feelings towards this teaching tool. Many of my professors use it on a daily bases, while others refuse the thought of using PowerPoint in their class. Leslie Takaki, a Communication graduate student and previous Public Speaking instructor feels that PowerPoint often gets misused, “A lot of instructors use it as a crutch. I think there should be classes or mandatory tutorials on how to use it successfully. I sometimes use it for large classes, but I made sure to Google how to use PowerPoint effectively.” http://www.garrreynolds.com/Presentation/index.html

There’s no doubt on my mind that PowerPoint can be used effectively and may be appropriate in some circumstances. However, I don’t think it’s the best teaching mechanism. Students attend class to learn, not to see what kind of background or font the professor chose to use on their PowerPoint. Instructors complain about students falling asleep in class, but if they had to sit through their own PowerPoints, so would they!

What’s your experience? Is PowerPoint an efficient teaching tool or just a teleprompter for professors?

9 thoughts on “PowerPoint or PowerNap?

  1. Power points are okay, but I write to slow to keep up and I don’t have a laptop, plus all of my teachers post them online, so what is the point of taking notes?

  2. It is frustrating to have professors teach this way. In my point of view, it is a waste of time going to class and base their lecture solely on this medium. Many students doze off and distract themselves easily on their laptops or cell phones. However, one professor I really like does not use powerpoint at all and lectures are the old fashioned way. I have actually learned more than other classes that use powerpoint. In this situation, I think technology is used inappropriately.

  3. The fact is that a lot of teachers just read what is on the power point and they might say a couple statements referring to whether a piece of information is important or not or the context that it applies. They might as well just put their two words of their own that they are getting paid their entire salary to come up with, post it on the d2l website, and just say good luck on the midterm. The classes that have relied on power point in my college career I have already forgotten and for the most part I have strayed away from learning more about the topic. (probably because of the extreme boredom that coincides with these classes) Documentaries and other educational videos are much like power point, but is more polished because it involves audio, that isn’t a monotone voice dragging on and on, and video that helps to paint a picture in the minds of students. This is essential when talking about some things worded descriptions fail to describe.

    1. Waldo thanks for your comment. I agree with your post. A lot of students end up just showing up for midterms and finals because they aren’t motivated to attend class due to boring PowerPoints.

  4. I’ve had classes wherein the Professor has made excellent use of powerpoint and my notes go on and on and I’ve had classes where the Professor reads the powerpoint slide to me–I made it this far I can read it myself, and usually faster.

    Powerpoint can be an excellent medium if used well. There are classes available online (and probably in person) for effective powerpoint-ing. I think all who intend to use this medium should make use of such classes.

    One thing I do like about the use of PP is that I know in a clear and concise mode what the Professor finds important. I do find it very useful to go back and read through them prior to exams. I would like to see all PPs made available online and prior to the beginning of class as I often take notes on the slides in the speaker’s notes portion.

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