Slide presentation software such as PowerPoint has become an ingrained part of many instructional settings, particularly in large classes and in courses more geared toward information exchange than skill development. PowerPoint can be a highly effective tool to aid learning, but if not used carefully, may instead disengage students and actually hinder learning.
Potential benefits of using presentation graphics include:
Although there are many potential benefits to PowerPoint, there are several issues that could create problems or disengagement:
This single presentation about the anatomy of the human eye has been rewritten in three different ways:
Elizabeth Rash (Nursing) provided this sample iterative case study (where parameters evolve over time) given to a midsize class. Students are required to come to class prepared having read online resources, the text, and a narrated slideshow presentation that accompanies each module. The classroom is problem-based (case-based) and interactive, where students are introduced to a young woman who ages as the semester progresses and confronts multiple health issues. Since the nurse practitioner students are being prepared to interact with patients, some slides require students to interview another classmate in a micro role-play.
Problem-based lectures frequently alternate between providing information and posing problems to the students, which alters the entire character of the presentation. Rather than explain and convey information, many slides ask questions that are intended to prompt critical thinking or discussion.
Classroom response systems can improve students' learning by engaging them actively in the learning process. Instructors can employ the systems to gather individual responses from students or to gather anonymous feedback. It is possible to use the technology to give quizzes and tests, to take attendance, and to quantify class participation. Some of the systems provide game formats that encourage debate and team competition. Reports are typically exported to Excel for upload to the instructor's grade book. Learn more about how to use this system in your own classes.
Instructors who do not have sufficient photocopying opportunities in their departments may be less likely to use paper worksheets with their students, especially in large classes. PowerPoint offers the ability to approximate worksheets to illustrate processes or to provide "worked examples" that shows problem-solving step-by-step. One valuable technique is to first demonstrate a process or problem on one slide, then ask students to work on a similar problem revealed on the next slide, using their own paper rather than worksheets handed out.
The PowerPoint software itself includes built-in functionality to record your audio commentary. In this fashion, instructors can literally deliver their entire lecture electronically, which can be especially useful in an online course. The resulting file is still a standard PowerPoint file, but when the slideshow is "played," the recorded instructor's voice narrates the action, and the slides advance on their own, turning whenever they had been advanced by the lecturer during the recording. Click here to see a sample.
It is also possible to use AuthorPoint Lite, a free software download, to take the narrated PowerPoint presentation and transform it all into a Flash video movie, which plays in any Web browser. Here is a sample. To create such a video, you must first record a narrated presentation, and then use AuthorPoint Lite to convert the file. Our tutorial explains the process.
Using this mode of PowerPoint, your slides are projected as usual on the big screen and fill the entire space, but the computer used by the lecturer displays the slides in preview mode, with the space for notes visible at the bottom of the screen. In this fashion, lecturers can have a set of notes separate from what is displayed to the students, which has the overall effect of increasing the engagement of the presentation.
Other ideas for use on a PowerPoint presentation include:
Staff members at the Faculty Center are pleased to work with instructors individually when constructing PowerPoint presentations. Additionally, the Office of Instructional Resources maintains the Faculty Multimedia Center (FMC), which offers customized assistance in popular software tools, including PowerPoint. The FMC is located in Classroom Building 1, room 202.
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