Relative Advantage of Using Slide Presentations

Have you seen this:

This is one of the PowerPoint slides that the Pentagon put together to explain the Afgan conflict.  ONE SLIDE!!  I think the best quote was, “When we understand [it],” war commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal joked when he saw the slide, “we’ll have won the war.”

You see slide presentations everywhere: school, the business world, THE PENTAGON, but have you ever thought about the skills that students gain from using these types of presentations?  There are many advantages to students learning how to use slide presentations effectively.  I can remember the first time a teacher used PowerPoint to teach the class, and looking back, he was the first to explain how it should be used in presentations.  He made sure we used contrasting colors, large font, and not a lot of words.  On those old TVs, the more you typed, the smaller the text size was, the harder it was to read in the back of the class.  Larger font and concise wordings allow for the presenters to use their presentation as a tool and not a crutch.  The presenter can focus on engaging his or her audience and not reading off of the screen, which the audience can do; if they read their presentation off of the screen, what use would they have to listen to them speak?

Slide presentations also help with the sequencing of events.  What comes first, second, third, and so on seems like a great springboard into not just writing a story, but also coding, which requires the sequencing thought process.  When I taught at the middle school, the art classes did an award-winning project called a “Virtual Art Museum.”  Students researched artists and their work and placed them in a museum room that they had drawn in PowerPoint.  They would then add hyperlinks throughout their presentation to link their room with their paintings and artist.  It was a really great lesson on not just drawing and hyperlinking, but sequencing their museum so that all of their links worked the way they should.  That kind of project added depth to just a plain old PowerPoint presentation.  It was interactive, instead of the speaker droning on about Mona Lisa.

My next goal is to have students and teachers start to think outside the box when it comes to PowerPoint presentations.  Let’s do something else.  PowerPoint is the only thing that these students know.  Let’s change it up and create a Voicethread, or a SlideShare, or even create a Keynote on the iPads.  Even though it’s Apple’s version of PowerPoint, having the students start to think about creating things cross-operating systems is a bonus.  The icon for bold is the icon for bold in virtually any program, the students just need to find it.

Being able to use different types of slide presentations could allow students to excel in the workplace if asked to give a presentation.  PowerPoint has been out for over 20 years.  If something can be done in PowerPoint, everybody has already seen it.  People want something different and want to see creativity.  Using a different type of presentation could mean the difference between keeping the status quo or “Wowwing,” your boss and getting that great promotion.  The advantage to this software is life-long.  As long as we have presentations go give, the software will be there.  Let’s teach the students how to do it right.

Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2013). Integrating educational technology into teaching (6th ed.). Boston: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon Publishers.


About mrdeissler

I teach technology education to elementary students and work with teachers on integrating new technologies into their lessons at two different elementary schools. This blog serves as a place for me to reflect and share to help make me a better educator, as well as document my learning in the M.E.T. program at Boise State University Follow me on Twitter @mrdeissler
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5 Responses to Relative Advantage of Using Slide Presentations

  1. I like the idea of having learners create presentations using different software for practice and exposure to other tools. I also think there is often a missed opportunity to use PowerPoint effectively because less than stellar PowerPoint is all that many people know. In my workplace all too often PowerPoint presentations are assembled without thinking about the visual language that accompanies them. In my post this week I realized just how often I referred to storytelling when talking about PowerPoint. As educators we can’t expect the PowerPoint to tell the story for us. We have to commit to the story and then use the tool to craft it. I loved the initial slide example that you gave from the Pentagon. One can only guess what the story is there–whatever it is, it’s complex!

  2. Kim Smith says:

    Kevin, the graphic you used at the beginning of your post is powerful. It was obviously the first thing I noticed when the page loaded and my eyes just about fell out of my head. I thought, “What in the world did he put that on there for?” Once I began to read, it made sense. Great way to get your point across!

  3. Kevin,
    Okay, you caught my attention with your opening graphic. It is outstanding! I remember when PowerPoint was first introduced how may training sessions I had to sit through in the Navy that were more than painful. Although not quite as messy as your graphic, they were highly ineffective. Students learn by example and teachers need to provide well done presentations for their students to follow. Teaching the students to do it well early is a life-long skill.


  4. Kevin,
    Great work on your analysis. In particular I appreciated your “slide”. You have demonstrated a clear understanding of the problems of misusing PowerPoint. You also have illustrated a perfect usage of presentation tools in your classroom. I appreciate your clear insights on this topic!

  5. achraftouati says:

    You have done a great job with your analysis and the History slide presentation that you have created. It’s amazing what I learned 25 slides later from your presentation; this definitely beats reading multiple passages and remembering who went where and when. There is no question that almost everyone knows how to create slides, but the question really is how many of us are designing them effectively.

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