The Best and Worst of an Instructional Visual Material (Module 4 – EDS151)

Powerpoint has become the standard “tool of the trade” for business meetings, training classes, and even school classrooms nowadays. Original designed for Macintosh computers, the application was developed in 1987 and was bought by Microsoft on the same year.  PowerPoint presentations consist of a number of individual pages or “slides”. The “slide” analogy is a reference to the slide projector. It provides numerous features that offer flexibility and the ability to create a professional or academic presentation. The ease of use can save a lot of time for people who otherwise would have used other types of visual aid—hand-drawn or mechanically typeset slides, blackboards or whiteboards, or overhead projections. Ease of use also encourages those who otherwise would not have used visual aids, or would not have given a presentation at all, to make presentations.

Most of my experience in using Powerpoint is when attending corporate presentations and training classes at work. I have probably either presented or have been part of an audience of thousands of presentation in my work for over a decade. Thus, I have seen the best and the worst use of the tool. The criteria or considerations for a successful use of powerpoint can probably be summed up in three:  Relevance to the learning outcome, Presentation or Instructional Strategy, and Learners or Audience Characteristics. Of the three, most of the time it’s the strategy that spells success, and this covers both the preparation and the delivery of the presentation.

I came across an interesting blog on the web by Brian Nelson that I think describes some of the worst things you can do with a Powerpoint presentation. I was somewhat amused how accurate these are based on my experience and would like to share it along with what I think they mean.

Top 5 Worst Things To Do In A PowerPoint Presentation

By Brian Nelson

  1. Reading Your Slides To The Audience – Unless your class doesn’t know how to read, provide talking points to your slides instead of reading off from them. Provide high points of the slide and stress on the more important points
  2. Infinite Clutter – Too much graphics and pictures may distract the class from the point of the slide. Make it simple and add only necessary graphics.
  3. Transitioning to Transitions With Transitions Until The Transitions Are Transitioned – Don’t be tempted to use too much animation in slide transition unless it’s a kindergarten class and you want to keep their attention.
  4. Worthless Graphics, Images, Graphs, WordArt, SmartArt, etc … – PowerPoint comes loaded with tons of amazing ways to jazz up your presentation with high impact visuals. Just make sure they are high impact and not highly annoying.
  5. Auuurrrrrggggghhhh, I Wish I Was Color Blind! – Select you color themes on your templates wisely, and make sure it matches the mood and temperament, as well as appropriate to you audience or class.

The instructional media can make or break a learning activity depending on how it is used. The key is “integrating” the media or presentation in your teaching strategy, rather than letting the media do the teaching.

References:

Pluralsight Blog. Top 5 Worst Things To Do In A PowerPoint Presentation.
http://blog.pluralsight.com/improve-your-powerpoint-presentation

Wikipedia. Microsoft PowerPoint
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_PowerPoint

Arizona State University. (n.d.) Media Selection Models. Retrived from
http://www.florencemartin.net/site08/research/Media%20Selection%20Models%20-%20ASU.pdf

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