Teaching with PowerPoint in the Net Generation

Teaching with PowerPoint in the Net Generation

Chris Gurrie (The University of Tampa, USA) and Brandy Fair (Grayson County College, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-347-8.ch021

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In 1990 the first version of PowerPoint was released for Windows software. The software was originally created to enhance presentations and allowed for ease of presentation by the presenter. Adler and Elmhorst (2005) discussed how a good PowerPoint presentation is governed by good practice. For example, slides should consist of seven lines with no more than seven items per line, known as the “7×7” rule. Although some texts suggest a “6×6” rule or “8×8” rule the overarching idea is to keep the slides as simple as possible (Ball, 2009; Dobson, 2006; Gareis, 2007; Leyes, 2007).

In addition to simplicity, it is important to analyze the listeners,’ learners,’ and/or audience’s perceptions of the material being presented, keeping in mind that people remember more when they are able to see, hear, and write material being introduced (Adler & Elmhorst, 2005). One of the best ways to use PowerPoint as a teaching tool would be to allow learners to see material and write notes on said material. However, this is not always the case in higher education classrooms despite being an important argument supporting the use of PowerPoint as a teaching tool. Many professors argue that using the program enables students to learn more information through a variety of channels, such as the instructor speaking and having the notes posted onto the screen simultaneously, thus appealing to the different learning styles that are present in the audience (Barnes, 2000; Doumont, 2005).

The authors of this chapter, being instructors in the communication field, have seen an array of issues dealing with PowerPoint and its use by faculty. Student advisees complain of lectures where professors pack data into 60 slides or more. Educators grumble about students using PowerPoint as a crutch to rely on when presenting final reports and papers. These issues are not unique; they affect today’s learner group which arguably consists primarily of the Net Generation. The authors of this chapter suggest that there are better ways to reach this population for a more effective message and better teaching. Students are bored with current approaches to using PowerPoint and practitioners need to make the effort to address this issue.

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