I think anyone that has been on the receiving end of the education system in recent years would relate to some of the comments highlighted in the above clip. Power point is not a new tool but it is done to death these days – sometimes quite badly. But in spite of this I have to admit to being a bit of a fan – with a couple of provisos. A well constructed power point (less of the nauseating transitions and lame sound effects), can help present information in an engaging and hopefully memorable way.
Ideally I believe a good secondary teaching power point devised to support a unit of work should be used in bite sized chunks. So present say 5-6 slides per lesson and make sure to include some video, audio and activities. You can include instructions in the power point as well as definitions and other key points for note taking. For me it’s a tidy way to summarise your key learning objectives in a visually pleasing, interactive manner that caters for range of learning styles and abilities. In a nutshell the point of a power point should be to educate and stimulate.
But wait there’s more. As teachers, we’re looking to work smarter not harder, and hopefully if we are approaching our profession in a collegial manner, are happy to share our own resources occasionally. There are a range of websites around which enabling users to upload presentations or download others. The only problem is that with some of the sites noted, you get the most basic version of the presentation so the links to audio, video etc don’t work. Still if you’re looking for something generic, such as an introduction to Shakespeare’s London, there are plenty of resources waiting to be discovered in the wonderful world of Web 2.0.
The advent of Web 2.0 has also seen the development of online presentation applications. These are web-based slide-sets which are built and managed online so no need for clunky desktop publishing programmes. In theory these are more accessible, more dynamic and sometimes, more interactive. Online creations tools include sliderocket ( really like the look of this one – very slick), 280 slides and Zoho.
The darling of online creations tools currently has to be prezi. This application lets you write, zoom and arrange words, images. It’s like power point on steroids (or red bull and vodka perhaps). The only word of caution here is not to overdo the extra functionality. Too much zooming in and out or simply using gadgets for the sake of it runs the risk of the students loosing focus, missing the point or even worse feeling nauseous. Let’s not blind them with science because we can – the best prezi presentations are intuitive, logical and seamlessly integrate a range of ideas and concepts. If it helps – story board your ideas first the old-fashioned way with pen and paper to logically think through how you want to present key teaching points.
Why would you use prezzi?
- To help students analyse long sections of text
- Zooming in and out helps students to focus on what’s important (reinforce key teaching points)
- The many layered approach allows you to expand on the meaning of a key word or concept
- You can visually associate images and words
- Explain concepts, diagrams and timelines in more detail
- Help students understand relationships, sequences and options
Here’s a link to my first attempt as once again I’m having trouble embedding this basic work of art into this post! I haven’t quite got the zooming sorted and am missing a few images but from go to whoa took me about 90 minutes. Obviously practice makes perfect!
So up to you – puffery or packaging? In my humble opinion, content is the most important component of any lesson. The above tools (or toys if you prefer) are simply presentation or delivery methods although some do enable more deep level thinking than a simple chalk and talk approach. They could also provide a good option for students to synthesise and represent information at the end of a unit of teaching. If done well, they should help us make that first and most difficult hurdle – engagement.