As 2013 draws to a close, the editorial team at Faculty Focus looks back on some of the most popular articles of the past year. During the course of the year, we published more than 250 articles on a full range of topics of interest to today’s college educators.
HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS
We’ve all heard the expressions “Death by PowerPoint” and “PowerPoint-induced coma.” I think we’d all agree that most of PowerPoints stink. Yet after sitting through presentation after presentation that bore us to tears, we turn around and subject our students and colleagues to the same torture that we find so excruciating. Why?
While other forms of visual presentations have cropped up—such as Prezi and Empressr—PowerPoint remains the presentation software of choice. Yet many folks develop PowerPoint presentations without fully understanding all components of the software and/or presenter tricks that could make for much more effective PowerPoint presentations.
If you use PowerPoint lectures in your face-to-face classes, you can use those same lectures as jumping-off points for creating narrated animations for your online students to watch. That’s the good news.
However, chances are you’ll need to make extensive changes—both to your existing PowerPoint slides, and to how you deliver them. Typically, this means scripting the lecture before narrating and recording it so that all information presented online is:
Slides, even with text and graphics on them, aren’t particularly as good as instructional content because someone needs to explain what’s on each slide. You are still the presenter and you should explain, right? (Right.)
Giving your students PowerPoint slides with only text or graphics is a problem because slides, even with text and graphics on them, really do not stand alone. It’s hard to add enough context without adding tons of text to explain what’s on the slide. And, well, PowerPoint isn’t really the right media for tons of text. If you want students to do a lot of reading, you really should provide students with printed or downloadable print materials.
“One of the biggest barriers to online learning is our inability to respond in the moment, unless we happen to be on live chat or video, which is really rare in most of the online learning world,” says Rick Van Sant, associate professor of education at Ferris State University.
PowerPoint is versatile in allowing us to add multimedia (graphics, sound, audio, video, text, animation, etc.) to our presentations for keeping online students’ rapt attention. But how much multimedia should you add? In answering this question, I find that taking into consideration students’ learning styles and cultural/international backgrounds can help to lessen the risk of using too much or too little multimedia in your online PPTs.
Most people assume that any presentation must be accompanied by a PowerPoint. Many conferences even tell presenters that they must submit their PowerPoint slides before the show–assuming that presenters will use PowerPoint just as they assume that presenters will be wearing shoes. Yet we’ve all seen terrible PowerPoints that detract from the presentation, so much so that we’ve coined the term “PowerPoint induced sleep.”