Catch the Imagination of Your Students...UsePower Point in the Classroom!

What is P​owerPoint?

PowerPoint is Microsoft software that allows its users to create materials that can be presented using a projector or computer. PowerPoint users can create slides that incorporate text, photographs, illustrations, drawings, tables, graphs, and movies. PowerPoint presentations consist of a gradual viewing of each slide, which is navigated through at the command of the presenter. The presenter then has the option of printing out the slides and distributing
them to the audience.
Powerpoint Screen Capture

What Learning Theories are Most Applicable to the Use of PowerPoint?

Power-point presentations offer a good outlet for constructivist learning theories to be put into practice. Power-point encourages the student to "discover" the technological capabilities of the software.

What are the Benefits of Using PowerPoint?

external image COMPUTE0.jpgPowerPoint helps the presenter look professional and current in many ways. Creativity is not limited in any way, shape, or form when composing a PowerPoint. You can add music, vidios, clipart, interesting fonts, and just about any web connection to enhance the presentation. You can also print out the slides from your PowerPoint so as to have the viewer have their own copy, allowing for note taking where they wish.
The PowerPoint program is very user friendly. To start a new presentation, one need only go to their PowerPoint program on their computer and hit, "new presentation." Once there you work, slide by slide, to compose your presentation. If you want creative backgrounds - they have many to choose from. They also allow you to animate your pictures and words so as to make watching the PowerPoint that much more engaging (a great aid for teachers trying to keep students interested in the lecture/ course presentations).

Because it is so easy to use, students can easy understand how to make their own presentations using this tool and become very good presenters in middle school grades, if not 5th grade. They can gain confidence in being in front of the class with PowerPoint. It is a great source of prompting for them in their presentations. They simply need to look at the screeen if they loose their train of thought and seeing a bullet point or picture, they can easily pick up where they left off.
This type of presentation keeps topics fresh for both the student and the teacher!

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What are the Challenges of Using PowerPoint?

The greatest challenge for PowerPoint lies in its viewers. It is more difficult to process information if it is coming at you both verbally and in written form at the same time. Research pioneered at the University of NSW found that the “human brain processes and retains more information if it is digested in either its verbal or written form, but not both at the same time.” Further, the findings show that the brain’s capacity has limits in processing and retaining information in short-term memory. A student’s working memory was only effective when juggling just a couple tasks and they were only able to retain them for a few seconds. Taking on too many mental tasks at a time resulted in student’s forgetting information.(1)

Other disadvantages of PowerPoint include:
-User needs to be familiar with technology.
-Difficult to use if a lot of detail is required. The way the slides and presentations are set up, the user can only present summaries of information and can’t go into great detail on content.
-Poor presentations can be detrimental to discussions.
-Students/Teachers can spend more time on creating the presentation than on the actual content of the presentation itself.
-Finally, costing about $100, PowerPoint can also be an expensive option for schools looking to provide a different learning outlet for its students.

What Special Guidance Might Help Users of PowerPoint?

Certainly, the teacher can offer guidance on how to use PowerPoint, and there are myriad online tutorials. However, per social constructivist learning theories, the best guidance may be no guidance at all. Today, high-school age students have a keen understanding of technological availability--that is, they are avware of what is out there in the Internet ether that they could potentially use in a PowerPoint presentation. Applying that knowledge in a hands-on, self-taught way may allow students to gain a deeper understanding of the software's capabilities.

What is the Current State of the Research on PowerPoint?

While current research on the usefulness of PowerPoint is somewhat lacking, Microsoft Office provided its customers with some positive results that have stemmed from PowerPoint.

external image banner2.gif"Pete's PowerPoint Station a must stop for teachers! Interact with it now!
PowerPoints are interactive.
Presentaters can incorporate pictures, text, colors, sounds and animations into PowerPoint presentations, which can have a profound impact on audience (learner) comprehension, recall and transfer.

2. Rich media will likely positively impact almost every aspect of the presentation. PowerPoint allows its users to aid text with pictures, graphics, video clips, audio clips or animationss, which transforms that text into something visual. “Considerable research suggests our brains encode visual and verbal information simultaneously but differently, in separate areas (Dual Coding Theory). If we merely speak to people, without incorporating supporting visuals, we basically nullify the brain’s mechanisms that respond to the visual stimuli.” (2)

3. PowerPoint presentations become “Presentation Networks”
Presenters can incorporate hyperlinks and design strategies to transform their slide shows into a visual database, known as a Presentation Network. Having this network available allows presenters to better manage their content, which encourages interactivity mentioned above. “Aspire trainers use a network that now contains thousands of slides and continues to grow – and they still find just about any slide in less than five seconds without ever leaving Slide Show mode.” (2) The picture below is an example of how the presenter can choose instantly between a large variety of videos or images.

Research suggests that there are also disadvantages of using PowerPoint, which is detailed above in the section titled "What are the challenges of using PowerPoint?"

What Lesson Ideas Might Instructors Consider in Using PowerPoint?

Not only are there endless possibilities of using PowerPoint for instruction, but it can be used at all grade levels as well. In elementary education, for example, teachers can use PowerPoint to show a slideshow of pictures and video to help students better understand the content. Using visual aids is an incredibly useful tool in helping students to connect to the . The teacher can create a slideshow of different cities around the United States, which is a great way for the students to "visit" cities. This can be done by either the teacher, the students or a joint effort.

As students enter middle school, the teacher can assign students to create their own powerpoint, either individually as a group. When studying the solar system, for example, students can create colorful PowerPoints with sound and animation. This is a great way for students and their classmates to remember the planets when they're done. Not only are students learning about the required content, but they are also learning critical computer skills as well.

Once students enter High School, teachers can transform typical lectures into games for the students to give their minds a break from simply listening and taking notes. A great way to integrate PowerPoint is by creating a Jeopardy game and breaking students off into groups. Whatever the content, whether it is History or Science, this can work in almost every subject area.

The website below is a great resource for teachers who are looking to incorporate PowerPoint into teaching lessons:

What Resources Might Instructors Consult When Using PowerPoint?

There are a number of useful Powerpoint instructional presentations online. Below is a beginner video from YouTube.

Works Cited: