Wednesday, July 29, 2009


I first remember using a PowerPoint presentation in Grade 6 or 7. We had to do a group presentation on another culture (we chose Mexico and made nachos for everyone!) and we got marked on our PowerPoint. Now I will admit that I am someone who is easily distracted and I can remember even back then spending ages changing colours, inserting pictures, making things move, adding noises..oh and of course the content we actually got marked on...however we never really received much guidance on what made for a stand out PowerPoint presentation. In fact it wasn't really until University that the contents of a PowerPoint Presentation was discussed.

When I was at Queensland University of Technology there was a compulsory subject called Learning Networks. It could have been really (and I mean REALLY) boring because the course focused on making sure we were all equipped to use ICT's (and that we actually knew what an ICT was) ...however I am starting to ramble. The point is, our student cohort was saved from going brain dead from boredom by our lecturer Michael Ryan. He used to have the most well prepared PowerPoints. PowerPoints that gave just enough information so it was relevent to what he was talking about, but not so much information that meant we could skip a lecture (smart lecturer!). His PowerPoint's always had awesome links and I am sure that he never posted the full presentation on the web because there were always extra slides at the lecture.

So what did Michael Ryan's lectures show me about the use of PowerPoint as a teaching tool?
  • Less is more - don't crowd each slide with text, pictures and garish colours - "too much sensory input can lead to cognitive overload" (
  • Don't rely on rely on the PowerPoint to do the teaching - why should your students make an effort to listen if you have made no effort to engage them?
  • Let your PowerPoint be a stimulus for learning - provide students with links to other sites that will have interesting information,YouTube, games or quizzes are just some examples
As a teaching tool PowerPoints can be really powerful (pardon the pun). Once you discover how to present your content so that it is both relevant and engaging the world is at your feet.
A study by CISCO systems shows that where visuals are added to texts (written and aural) there can be "significant gains in basic or higher order learning" (
The Metri Group, drawn from the work of Richard Mayer, Roxanne Moreno and others created a report that outlined the learning principles for Multimedia.Two are especially relevant to PowerPoint presentations.

Multimedia Principle - Retention is improved through words and pictures rather than through words alone Modality Principle - Students learn better from animation and narration than from animation and on-screen text.
(Quoted directly from

Watching PowerPoint in the classroom with Jim Jingle and Special Sue I was certain that Andrew O'Keefe had got his own web page. While the script was a little corny (and I could not help imagining game show music in the background) I have to admit that the site did engage me however the information may be more beneficial to those who have never used PowerPoint before.

I would definitely use PowerPoint in my classroom. For older students I would provide them with handouts so they can take notes as we go along. With younger students information would be much simpler and explicit and also the presentation would be shorter.

As a student centred technology PowerPoint is still valuable. An effective PowerPoint presentation requires the student to use a range of higher order thinking skills including problem solving and deciding what information should be placed on the slides, experimentation with layout and the creation and design of the presentation. They should also make time to reflect and evaluate the effectiveness of their Presentation.

1 comment:

  1. I agree that a slide show should be a stimulus for learning without it doing the teaching for you. There is nothing worse than sitting through a presentation with an abundance of text and the presenter just reads the slides. I know how to read and same goes for our students.They need to be engaged in a motivational presentation backed up with visually apealing slides.