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Power Points

Power Points

I had a really interesting and pleasant meeting recently organized by members of student government. Several other administrators were there and many student leaders. The latter had been encouraged to raise issues with us. Pretty uniformly (there were various subgroups involved) the students mentioned concerns about advising – more about that later – but also a really interesting take on the use of PowerPoint in classes.

They largely don’t like them.

Now, I am totally biased. I don’t use PowerPoint in class. I only deploy it in certain public presentations, such as the Board of Visitors, where the genre has conquered. So in quite unexpectedly hearing student views that harmonize with my own, I risk overindulgence.

The students did not, of course, say that PowerPoint presentations were always bad. They did indicate, however, that too often instructors end up reading the points, which results in repetition and boredom, or at least being so trapped by them that no individuality, no sense of passion for the subject emerges.  The sentiment was so forcefully and widely stated that I thought it was worth a blog.

Again, I know instructors (one is a daughter) who rely extensively on PowerPoint to convey the organization of the class without being consumed or confined by them. But the danger is there, and it is probably worth some wider consideration as part of best teaching practices.