“Audiences …endure a relentless sequentiality, one damn slide after another…. it is difficult to understand context and evaluate relationships… At a minimum, a presentation format should do no harm. Yet the PowerPoint style routinely disrupts, dominates, and trivializes content. Thus PowerPoint presentations too often resemble a school play -very loud, very slow, and very simple. “Edward Tufte, “Powerpoint is Evil.”
“Unfortunately, many PowerPoint features and techniques contradict current research in cognitive science.”
Atkinson & Mayer (2004)

Often new NCSC faculty feel an expectation to focus much of their class prep on developing Powerpoint slides for their first classes.  Yet much research shows that default use of PowerPoint can disrupt learning and student success with  passive, jumbled information that drains a class of context, energy and engagement.


“It is up to us to make a fundamental shift in our thinking – we can no longer expect people to struggle to try to adapt to our PowerPoint habits. Instead, we have to change our PowerPoint habits to align with the way people learn.”
Atkinson & Mayer (2004)

PowerPoint can still be a helpful learning tool, if used minimally and in a thoughtful and intentional way.

    Distill your overall material down to the bare key points to reduce the amount of material so that 1 slide = 1 idea summed up in a sentence. Move all other text – bullet points to speaker notes or a Word document but off the slides.
  2. Focus on Meaningful Visuals
    Do not add “window dressing” clip art — purposefully use visuals that add meaning. Each visual element should earn its keep to offer either a Communication or Psychological function that aligns with learning goals of a class session. (Clark & Lyons 2010)
  3. Use Slides as Jumping off Point for Interaction
    Intentionally build in to your slidedecks at regular intervals (at least every 10-15 minutes) slides that prompt the students the chance to test, apply or otherwise DO something with the preceding material. Use the slide to offer succinct Directions for the activity. Some examples:

    Take out a sheet of paper and  make

    Sample PowerPoint Interactive Activity Directions slide 1

    opt a-b --PNG

    Sample PowerPoint Interactive Activity Directions Slide 2

  4. Likewise you can embed or Insert HYPERLINKS on slides to utilize tools such as YouTube or Kahoot or PollEverywhere to offer breaks and activities for engaging students in interaction and feedback.


“Pecha Kucha” Approach
[**Particularly powerful for Student Presentations!]
20 slides
only set to auto advance after 20 seconds each – total 6 minutes, 40 seconds. This allows for a more engaging, concentrated, focused and provocative “TEDTalk” type of intro to material followed by discussion and or activities to further unpack material.
A Pecha Kucha About Pecha Kucha (YouTube- 6 Minutes, 48 seconds)
Pecha Kucha in the Classroom: Tips & Strategies for Better Presentations
Pecha Kucha in the Classroom

Haiku Deck – www.haikudeck.com
(Any web browser, iPad or iPhone)

Haiku Deck is a free online tool that bakes in many multimedia best practices that defaults to good multimedia and cognitive learning best practices by default. Likewise it also support Diverse talents/ Ways of Learning by allowing you to create a cloud based learning object to either allow students to access before a class or after.
Sample HaikuDeck
ppt best
Create Simple, Visual Presentations Intro/ Sample etc.
Promoting Visual Literacy with Haiku Deck
Google + HaikuDeck Education Community


Pick one class or week that you would normally lecture extensively from PowerPoint.
1) Set out to cut the on screen text and number of slides by 50%.
Move the rest of the text to handouts (which you can post before or after in Canvas) and or speaker’s notes.
Distill down your slide deck to the essential core explanations you are sure the class will need clarified.
2) Using some of the time opened up by #1, create 2-3 interactive application activities (The “4 S’s” are effective best practices for forming those) or provocative questions that students could do a think pair share with.
The key should be prompts that probe for deeper understanding/ application and or to identify gaps.
3) Reflect on and survey students for how it goes.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s