I remember when I first starting teaching, we were all expected to incorporate technology into our classrooms. For most teachers, this was an intimidating request. Due to its ease of use and availability, it became standard practice for teachers to present their lessons using PowerPoint or some other presentation software. Administrators were pleased because they could “advertise” to parents and school board that the school was promoting 21st century learning through the use of technology. The problem was that some teachers simply transferred their notes onto PowerPoint slides without changing anything about the lesson or the manner in which they taught. The presentations were dull and it was tedious for students to watch a PowerPoint in every class day after day. The truth is that just because a teacher uses the computer for a lesson, does not necessarily mean that he/she is incorporating technology. When presentation software is not used effectively, it loses its value and that is when students see PowerPoints with a negative connation.
A PowerPoint can actually be a very useful educational tool for teachers when it is designed well and presented appropriately. Appealing to a variety of learning styles, engaging learners, focusing attention and providing visual aid are all advantages to using presentation software (Effective Use of Powerpoint, 2014). Furthermore, PowerPoint is an easy to use and easy to learn tool that is available to practically everyone. When presentations are created digitally, they are easy to edit, save, share with your students, and reuse in every class from year to year. For all these reasons, it is no wonder why educators love to use presentation software so often. However, since the use of PowerPoint is so prevalent, its misuse is also very common. Unfortunately, teachers try to overload slides with text, read the presentation word for word, use distracting animations, or overuse it as a tool (Shank, 2011).
As a teacher, any software tool or technology activity that you incorporate into your lesson should always enrich the learning process. A PowerPoint should enhance the presentation; it should never replace the need for the teacher delivering the presentation or distract students from subject at hand. Presentations are wonderful visual aids and allow students to focus their attention on a chart, picture, or screenshot during the lesson. Since the nature of this tool is visual communication, the material presented should be visual. Text should not be the primary focus of a presentation, especially since “we remember images better than we remember words” (Shank, 2011). This type of software tool is appealing because it meets the needs of visual learners and auditory learners. When a presentation is made interactive so that students participate with student response systems or interactive games, then it can meet the needs of kinesthetic learners as well. Interactive, visual presentations engage and motivate students. It takes time and effort to create well-designed, effective presentations, but the relative advantages of using this software tool can be extremely beneficial to students.
Effective use of PowerPoint. (2014). UCF Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning. Retrieved on February 22, 2014 from http://www.fctl.ucf.edu/teachingandlearningresources/Technology/PowerPoint/index.php#worksheet.
Shank, Patti. (2011, May 6). Using PowerPoint Effectively in Your Courses. Faculty Focus. Retrieved February 22, 2014 from http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/instructional-design/using-powerpoint-effectively-in-your-courses/.