Saturday, March 08, 2014


From Twitter: a great article—in PowerPoint format—on how PowerPoint has become the scourge of academia, ruining teaching and dehumanizing the educational experience. It's enough to make me rethink how I want my students to do their projects this semester.



Nathan B said...

The article misrepresents Kristof, and I remember reading his article before seeing this. Kristof said nothing about outlining, and his point was about diction and syntax, not structuring texts.

When I used to teach in a language school that was part of the Faculty of Continuing Studies at a local university, I often saw student-produced PowerPoint presentations. Some were great, some weren't. But I think it's unproductive to blame PowerPoint's wide usage for the lack of ability of some students to use it effectively. I wouldn't damn the essay as a writing format because some students can't handle it. I wouldn't damn the short speech because it could be videotaped and seen by students who missed a professor's class.

In short: I disagree with the primary claim in the article as well as with a number of details in it (details not limited to the above).

(By the way, thanks for the kinds words you emailed me the other day!)

Kevin Kim said...

I think Rebecca Schuman does concede that PowerPoint can be used well, but her main point is that the way it's used must change. She even offers recommendations on how to use PowerPoint effectively, such as making it limited in scope so that one's speaking to the audience is the primary mode of information-conveyance. At one point she says that PowerPoint, by itself, should be incomprehensible, i.e., there needs to be a speaker who can interpret the words and images. An overly thorough PPT slideshow obviates the need for a human being to be there at all. So all in all, I'm not sure that you and Schuman are in fundamental disagreement.

As for her misrepresentation of Kristof—well, I'd need to read Kristof myself before I can comment.

Continued good luck with your endeavors!