The Power of PowerPoint

As second semester is just around the corner, I sent out a call to professors asking them if they would like to learn PowerPoint to use in their classes.  At the same time, I sent them a link to a blog post entitled: Rethinking PowerPoint in the Law School Classroom.  The purpose was not to deter them from using PowerPoint but to think about how and why they will use it.

One professor emailed me back saying: “Ater the article on PowerPoint, I’m not sure I want to use it!”

So with my good intentions gone awry, I looked back at the results of a survey that I did with some of the student here in the Fall   Here are some of the things they had to say about how PowerPoint enhanced their learning:

 It has definitely proven to be an asset to the course.” 

“The main points are already laid out in an intelligible form on the slides.  In my other classes, I am typing constantly in order to take notes and then sort everything out later in the form of outlines.  With the slides, I only need to take supplemental notes.  The class involves a lot of subjective interpretation so I can spend that “freed up” time actually thinking about the cases and issues discussed in class, rather than worrying about writing everything down and sorting it out.

 “It has greatly enhanced my learning.  It is much easier to follow his lecture and effectively take notes when he utilizes PowerPoint.”

“The slides are clear and assist understanding of complexities of law.” 

 “I think it would be helpful if the professor did use PowerPoint slides. When the professor draws diagrams on the board, it is usually very helpful.”

“It’s helpful and it’s nice to see the material on the big screen.

When I looked at the comments to this Blog to see why this blog caused this law school professor to change her mind about powerpoint, I felt renewed.  Here are some positive excerpts:

“While discussing a case about whether a commercial could be an offer, the professor showed the commercial via PowerPoint. It was very effective” (Jeremey Masten)

“… I’ve used hyperlinks in my Powerpoint slides to create non-linear presentations. Basically, I put hyperlinks in the slides so I can jump around and show the slides outof order. ..I’m usually happy with the results, and I’ve had many students say they prefer these sorts of things to traditional, bullet-point oriented slides.” (Jonathan Adler)

Putting up a single question for students to answer is very powerful. And if students don’t like being “wrong” when the next slide has a different set of “answers” — why put in a slide of answers at all? I can easily imagine a class being organized around a series of questions, which also subtly conveys an emphasis on inquiry and creativity.I wouldn’t underestimate the psychological power of PowerPoint as a visual aid, even if it’s “supposed” to be used as an outliner.” (Gene Koo)

There IS Power to PowerPoint and I hope to continue to encourage professors to learn it!

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2 Responses to The Power of PowerPoint

  1. Many lecturers in my uni ditched PowerPoint in favour of Adobe Acrobat as soon as it acquired the ability to present full-screen pages. This is particularly useful for researchers who still use LaTeX to write articles and present parts (particularly advanced math) to their students.

  2. […] Powerpoint is used to enhance classroom learning especially in one professor’s Contracts class.(see January 8, 2007 post) […]

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