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.