Should PowerPoint be banned from colleges?

PowerPoint Lectures Are The Death Of Me

Should PowerPoints be banned from college classrooms?


Recently, I read a series of articles pertaining to the discussion of professors and teachers relying too heavily on PowerPoint presentations for their teaching. I have had many teachers from middle school up until now who have been very reliant on PowerPoint presentations. I agree that there are many issues in the current education system and the problem is growing as more and more teachers (at least from my experience) have been getting "lazy" and are defaulting to teach using a basic slideshow.

The movement to ban PowerPoint from certain universities was actually started by a professor, Ben Meir Sorensen, who used PowerPoint. Sorensen claimed this realization sprung from the fact that he was boring himself through teaching using a Powerpoint during a lecture. "A PowerPoint presentation locks the lecture into a course that disregards any input other than the lecturer's own idea… it cuts off the possibility of improvisation and deviation, and the chance to adapt to student input without veering off course." Sorensen discusses PowerPoint's origin and how it was created to help with sales and business proposals, which leads to the issues of education losing its sense of importance and the ability for students to actually learn and understand the concepts being taught.

"As it turns out, PowerPoint has not empowered academia. The basic problem is that a lecturer isn't intended to be selling bullet point knowledge to students, rather they should be making the students encounter problems. Such a learning process is slow and arduous, and cannot be summed up neatly. PowerPoint produces stupidity, which is why some, such as American statistician Edward Tufte have said it is "evil"."

When my instructors are using a PowerPoint for their lecture they often move too quickly or not fast enough leaving the class to cause more stress or to drag along and feel like an eternity. Missing something during the presentation when the instructor moves too quickly is a piece of learning that is lost. Banning PowerPoints from classrooms can create a better atmosphere which leads to improvements in student engagement and grades.

Paul Ralph claims that the three main reasons PowerPoint slides are toxic in education are:

1. Slides discourage complex thinking

Instructors are forced to try to fit all of the complex issues they are teaching into simple bullet points and graphics easy enough for students to understand. When PowerPoint is used students can act like they understand the information better than if the professor were to implement a different teaching style.

I have often found myself faking my understanding of certain material by reading it and thinking "Alright, I got this. I can do it" and then not do as good when I get to a homework problem, quiz, or test.

2. When most courses are based on slides, students come to think of a course as a set of slides

This is a very detrimental issue because students are led to criticize the teachers who are actually good at their jobs. Especially in difficult classes when teachers who don't use PowerPoint and challenge their students to think through problems, the students are no longer wanting to put forth the right amount of effort to learn.

3. Slides discourage reasonable expectations

When teachers use PowerPoints, students often expect that the PowerPoint will contain all information that they must know which defers them from reading any supplements materials, such as textbooks. This is harmful to student grades as they are missing parts of the information simply because they don't think to look at them. The teacher is not at fault for this, but the generalization of PowerPoint usage is.

I have two professors this semester who rely heavily on PowerPoint for their lectures and I realize that I am not as attentive in those classes as I am in the ones in which my professors do not use PowerPoint.

Looking at a screen and having a professor read from it for an hour and fifteen minutes feels like torture as it is far from my learning style and overall is not engaging

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To The Teacher Who Was So Much More

Thank you for everything

I think it's fair to say that most people remember at least one teacher who had a lasting impact on them. I have been incredibly lucky to have several teachers who I will never forget, but one individual takes the cake. So here's to you: thank you for all you have done.

Thank you for teaching me lessons not just in the textbook.

Although you taught a great lecture, class was never just limited to the contents of the course. Debates and somewhat heated conversations would arise between classmates over politics and course material, and you always encouraged open discussion. You embraced the idea of always having an opinion, and always making it be heard, because why waste your voice? You taught me to fight for things I believed in, and to hold my ground in an argument. You taught me to always think of others before doing and speaking. You showed me the power of kindness. Thank you for all the important lessons that may not have been included in the curriculum.

Thank you for believing in me.

Especially in my senior year, you believed in me when other teachers didn't. You showed me just what I could accomplish with a positive and strong attitude. Your unwavering support kept me going, especially when I melted into a puddle of tears weekly in your office. You listened to my stupid complaints, understood my overwhelming stress-induced breakdowns, and told me it was going to be okay. Thank you for always being there for me.

Thank you for inspiring me.

You are the epitome of a role model. Not only are you intelligent and respected, but you have a heart of gold and emit beautiful light where ever you go. You showed me that service to others should not be looked at as a chore, but something to enjoy and find yourself in. And I have found myself in giving back to people, thanks to your spark. Thank you for showing me, and so many students, just how incredible one person can be.

Thank you for changing my life.

Without you, I truly would not be where I am today. As cliche as it sounds, you had such a remarkable impact on me and my outlook on life. Just about a year has passed since my graduation, and I'm grateful to still keep in touch. I hope you understand the impact you have made on me, and on so many other students. You are amazing, and I thank you for all you have done.

Cover Image Credit: Amy Aroune

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An Open Letter To Myself At 15

This is an open letter to myself about things I wish I had known at 15.


Dear Hailey,

You are so loved. I know times might be hard, but it will all be okay. It's okay to ride the fence and be unsure of what you want to do with your life. You're going to change your mind 10 more times before graduation anyways. Also, don't worry about all of the things that you can't change. You can't make someone fall in love with you or make her treat you like a better friend. It's okay for people not to fit in your life. Stop bending over backward for people and live for yourself. In a few years, you will go through so much, but you come out on the better side. You are going to be successful and driven. Also, learn what the meaning of "self-care" is. You need to do a lot of that in the upcoming years. Mental health is more important than anything. Also, quit cutting your baby hairs. They will never get longer so you need to embrace and love them early on. Figure out what you can change, and what you cannot. Most importantly, accept what you cannot change. When you decide that you are ready to face the things that you can change, do it with your whole heart. That doesn't mean complete perfection. It's important to know the difference. Start by making a plan for the future. Write it down, memorize it, do whatever makes it the easiest for you. Think through your plan logically, take into consideration your strengths and weaknesses. Remember to do the hard things first once in a while, the relief is sweet in the end.

You are ready.

You are young.

You are smart.

You are beautiful.

If you ever feel that you are at your lowest point, just remember the only place that you can go is up. Find reassurance in the weakness. The best is yet to come. Don't take pity on yourself. Instead, work harder to make your situation better. Be happy. There are so many things to be thankful for. Ask when you need help. No one can read your mind. Time won't stop for you. Worrying and stressing is simply a waste of time. Be strong and know that you are in God's hands. Everything will work out. It may not be today or tomorrow, but eventually, the pieces will fall into place and you will understand why things had to happen that way.



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