An editorial comment by Melanie Thornton, Director, Project PACE, University of Arkansas at Little Rock
Stop and think for a moment about your use of PowerPoint™ as a medium for providing information to students online. We are all guilty on occasion of getting trapped inside the box instead of thinking outside of it. We use PowerPoint™ in class or in presentations, so we automatically think about how to use it online.
PowerPoint™ is a visual presentation software that was developed to augment a live presentation. By adding audio, you can also use it to create a stand-alone slide presentation. The majority of people who use PowerPoint for educational purposes, however, use it to:
Without the content of the live presentation, most PowerPoint™ slides would not be very meaningful. One way to overcome this problem is to incorporate the spoken portion of the presentation with the slide presentation in some way—either as text or audio. The question remains: Is this format the ideal format for providing your course content? Let's look at the advantages and disadvantages of using a slide format for online learning.
Based on the PowerPoint™ presentations I have seen, I would say that in the majority of cases, the slides would have to be modified in order to make them meaningful and an efficient means of providing online instruction. This modification could take the form of:
Given the extra effort needed to provide content effectively in this manner, it seems that it would be more effective and efficient to add a little more effort and develop content in a way that is more appropriate to online learning. If we return to the rule of "content first, then design" we may be able to better determine the best tools for providing our online content.
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