PowerPoint In the Classroom


What's All the Hype?

Seen as the industry standard for delivering interactive multimedia presentations, Microsoft PowerPoint, almost a decade old now, is beginning to pop-up in classrooms of all levels across the nation.

PowerPoint is a wonderful tool for learning in both a student and teacher-directed situation. It can add a new dimension to learning allowing teachers to explain abstract concepts, while accommodating all learning styles. Used properly, PowerPoint can be one of the most powerful tools for disseminating information ever known. Employed inappropriately, PowerPoint could potentially confuse students and make learning a difficult process.

Set the scene: Early 90's, Corporate America. A top-level executive begins to assess his/her underlings not only on their ideas, but also on their Arrangement of graphs and funny sounds that are integrated into their PowerPoint presentations. The executive pays special attention to colors, sounds, and movies being presented, all the while letting the content escape.

Set the scene: The New Millennium, Digital America. The once top level exec.- now middle manager, looks back and wonders where the innovation went in the organization.

Another victim of triple "P" (PowerPoint Paralysis)! Triple "P" can be defined as the over zealous concentration on the utilization of PowerPoint, while concurrently disregarding the content being exhibited.

Our staff agrees that triple "P" is not uncommon in the business-world. Our goal is not to allow this practice manifest itself in the realm of education. As skilled-educators, before we employ this tool in our classrooms we must realize our susceptibility to triple "P."

What's Good About PowerPoint?

1. PowerPoint is fun to watch and fun to make.

2. Used correctly, PowerPoint can accommodate all learners' needs.

3. It has a spell-check function! Something our black boards and overheads lack.

4. It motivates students when used in moderation.

5. It motivates staff.

6. PowerPoint allows you to reflect on your lesson and correct any needed changes. Finally, you can create the perfect lesson!

7. Imagine to be able to print out what you did in class for students that were absent. Better yet, turn the accountability on to students and post your presentations on-line.

8. PowerPoint is not hard to learn. Our technology staff rates it a "B+" for ease of use. It should take about one hour to learn the basics.

What's Bad About PowerPoint?

1. Content can sometimes take a back seat to flash. Watch-out for triple "P."

2. Computers crash, networks go down, viruses can plague computers! Always have a back-up plan!

3. Overuse can bore learners and diminish PowerPoint's effectiveness.

4. Classrooms need large monitors or projectors to display presentations. Make sure your technology plan furnishes this. With simple TV-out cards or VGA-TV converters, this can be easily accomplished.

5. A successful presentation can take several hours to develop.

What No One Tells You About PowerPoint

1. You don't need to waste your money on a book to learn PowerPoint. The program comes with a complete tutorial. You can access this by clicking on the help portion of the tool bar. The web also has an overwhelming amount of well-written Articles. TeAch-nology.com has highlighted our favorite sites in the "Learn PowerPoint" section of this tutorial. This is accessible by clicking on "Learn PowerPoint" to the left.

2. There are plenty of sites on the web that allow you to access many types of different media (pictures, sounds, movies, etc.) for free. Try www.lycos.com , www.av.com, images.google.com.

3. Microsoft has made available a free PowerPoint viewer that allows you to show presentations on any computer made in the last five years. You can find download an area by visiting www.microsoft.com and type "PowerPoint Viewer" into their search engine.

4. PowerPoint makes it easy to convert any presentation into a web page. You just have to save your presentation as HTML.

5. Most schools purchase lesser-known presentation software for their staff and students due to cost. If you look into it Microsoft actually gives academic institutions that buy multiple copies of PowerPoint a reduced price. When buying 25 or more copies, PowerPoint could actually cost your organization the same if not less than other presentation packages.

Learn PowerPoint

Below you will find a number of sites that can help you learn the basic use of PowerPoint. Be sure to thoroughly test your presentation before using them with your classes. Good Luck!

Free Resources For Learning PowerPoint:

  1. Electric Teacher- A 5 part tutorial on the practical use of PowerPoint.
  2. Microsoft's Offical PowerPoint Site
  3. PowerPoint in the Classroom- Probably the best resource on the web for teachers.
  4. The PowerPoint Ezine- An excellent ezine that covers a wide range of the use of PowerPoint. The author examines PowerPoints application and the people using it on a regular basis.

Feeling limited as to the number of backgrounds and sound effects you can add to your PowerPoint Presentations?

The Bottom Line

When it comes to enhancing learning, black boards are good, overheads are better, but PowerPoint is the best. PowerPoint is a great tool for learning, but watch out for triple "P!"

Once you start your voyage, don't forget to look back and ask yourself: "Is this making me a better teacher?" If the answer is no, see if someone else in your building can use your equipment. Technology is a lot of things, but it shouldn't take the place of well-polished traditional methods of teaching and learning. It is meant to enhance teaching and learning.