“Design is about making things good (and then better) and right (and fantastic) for the people who use and encounter them.”
— Matt Beale
We’ve all sat through presentations full of text, poor graphics or overly-flashy slides and wondered why the speaker didn’t just provide us with a handout. Often times, the speaker may simply copy and paste their presentation onto slides or spend little time proofing the presentation. While PowerPoint is an easy tool to misuse, it has some very promising uses for education:
Emphasize Important Terms
PowerPoint provides an easy to use platform for sharing ideas and key concepts. Instructors can save time by displaying difficult to spell term and provide samples or charts. Additionally, as My Favorite Teacher Magazine points out in their article on PowerPoint for educators, PowerPoint allows for presentation material to be displayed automatically, giving the instructor the opportunity to float around the classroom and check for understanding with students on an individual basis (2007).
PowerPoint is a great tool for stimulating discussion amongst class participants. Instructors may use the tool to create quizzes, simulate a game show, or simply list questions for groups to discuss. Additionally, the materials are easy to update and change when needed. This allows instructors to keep content relevant to the topics being discussed in the classroom.
It’s one thing to explain how a concept works and an another to see it actually happen. Concepts like population growth, evolution or global warming can be illustrated through animated presentations (My Favorite Teacher Magazine, 2007). Additionally, slides may be used as a backdrop for storytellers or presenters, changing as the story evolves.
Engage Different Types of Learners
When creating a PowerPoint presentation, the speaker is given the opportunity to engage many different types of learners. A presentation may contain text, pictures, video and sound elements. Additionally, interactive presentations give students who prefer hands-on learning the chance to participate and possibly change the path of the presentation. For example, an instructor may use a “choose your own adventure” interactive presentation for a history assignment to illustrate how different choices may give different outcomes.