Thursday, January 19, 2012

PowerPoint is Still Dead

Well, that might be a bit extreme.  PowerPoint does have its place, but it is not as a daily classroom presentation tool.  In a fairly recent New York Times article about the use of PowerPoint in the US Military, high ranking officials have said that PowerPoint "makes us stupid,” and "...the program stifles discussion, critical thinking and thoughtful decision-making."  The article even goes so far as to compare debriefing PowerPoints to "hypnotizing chickens."  I don't know about you, but if PowerPoints can have that kind of effect on our well trained and disciplined soldiers, how must it affect our nation’s students?

This whole "project based/inquiry learning model" is great in theory and does absolutely work, but with traditional class structure, size, and scheduling barriers these projects can be few and far between.  I get it.  I am only here to offer up some alternatives to PowerPoint.  The idea is to mix it up a bit.  Keep the students brains engaged.

Prezi has been out for many years and many of you may have seen it or even used it.  I like to use it as a student project creation tool.  It is a right brain oriented activity and can sometimes be an "artistic" experience.  As a teacher I do not recommend you rush out and convert all your PowerPoints to Prezi, but rather suggest that you use it as an intro or closer to a unit of study.

Prezi has come a very long way since its inception and they do very regular updates.  Often these updates RADICALLY change the look of the tool, but the function always stays the same.   At the time of this post, I just finished what feels like the 25th update to my training handout.  Please feel free to use it or modify it to your liking (please give attribution).

Here is a Prezi that I use to present the tool to teachers.  I "borrowed" it from Paul Hill at the I did make some modifications to it to fit my needs.

*Update: Here is a link to an article on the subject of Really Bad PowerPoint (and how to avoid it) written by Seth Godin, a "NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author, a renowned public speaker and an agent of change.

Please note that Seth's audience is those in the business world and his suggestion of "buying professional images" should be overlooked.  If you are using your presentation in a classroom setting, your use of copyrighted images would be covered under Title 17 of the United States Code, section 110 (1).

1 comment:

Vince Bank said...

Guy Kawasaki, entrepreneur, venture capitalist and techie, has a great post that whipped around the Net a few years ago - pointing out that most people abuse the limited PPT (post below).

Every kid who's tried Prezi in my class loves it, and I doubt they go back to PPT ...


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