Should PowerPoint be banned from colleges?

PowerPoint Lectures Are The Death Of Me

Should PowerPoints be banned from college classrooms?

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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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Stop Discourging Future Teachers

One day, you'll be thankful for us.
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“What do you want to be when you grow up?" It seems like this is the question we heard from the time we were able to talk. Our answers started out as whatever movie or action figure was popular that year. I personally was going to be Cinderella and shoot spider webs out of my wrists at the same time. The next phase was spent choosing something that we read about in a book or saw in movies. We were aspiring to be actors, skydivers, and astronauts.

After we realized NASA may not necessarily be interested in every eager 10-year-old, we went through the unknown stage. This chapter of life can last a year or for some, forever. I personally did not have a long “unknown" stage. I knew I was going to be a teacher, more specifically I knew I wanted to do elementary or special education. I come from a family of educators, so it was no surprise that at all the Thanksgiving and Christmas functions I had actually figured it out. The excitement of knowing what to do with the rest of my life quickly grew and then began to dwindle just as fast.

“Why?"

"Well, looks like you'll be broke all your life."

“That's a lot of paperwork."

“If I could go back and do it again, I wouldn't choose this."

These are just a few replies I have received. The unfortunate part is that many of those responses were from teachers themselves. I get it, you want to warn and prepare us for the road we are about to go down. I understand the stress it can take because I have been around it. The countless hours of grading, preparing, shopping for the classroom, etc. all takes time. I can understand how it would get tiresome and seem redundant. The feeling a teacher has when the principal schedules yet another faculty meeting to talk an hour on what could've been stated in an email… the frustration they experience when a few students seem uncontrollable… the days they feel inadequate and unseen… the sadness they feel when they realize the student with no supplies comes from a broken home… I think it is safe to say that most teachers are some of the toughest, most compassionate and hardworking people in this world.

Someone has to be brave enough to sacrifice their time with their families to spend time with yours. They have to be willing to provide for the kids that go without and have a passion to spread knowledge to those who will one day be leading this country. This is the reason I encourage others to stop telling us not to go for it.

Stop saying we won't make money because we know. Stop saying we will regret it, because if we are making a difference, then we won't. Stop telling us we are wasting our time, when one day we will be touching hearts.

Tell us to be great, and then wish us good luck. Tell us that our passion to help and guide kids will not go unnoticed. Tell us that we are bold for trying, but do not tell us to change our minds.

Teachers light the path for doctors, police officers, firefighters, politicians, nurses, etc. Teachers are pillars of society. I think I speak for most of us when I say that we seek to change a life or two, so encourage us or sit back and watch us go for it anyways.

Cover Image Credit: Kathryn Huffman

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4 Ways to Survive During Finals Week

Finals week is hard, but you got this!

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Buckle your seatbelts, everyone, it's about to be a long ride for the next few weeks of endless studying, crying in the library, eating Easy Mac for every meal, and constantly wishing for summer. It's finals week. But you got this!

Final exams, in many classes, might be the most important exam of the year. How do professors expect us to review everything we learned in a semester in just a couple of weeks, and take a two-hour exam on all of the material? It seems nearly impossible, except that many students are able to manage it. Here are a few short tips to survive finals week:

Make a schedule

One of the most efficient things to do to prepare for finals is to make a study schedule. Plan out what classes you need to study more for than others, what days and times you want to study each section of material, etc. Most times, for me in specific, when I make a plan I stick to it, so this is one thing that I do that really helps me stay organized and on top of everything.

Prioritize

Do you have one class that you can get an A in if you study hard for the final, but another class that you need over 100% on the final to get an A in the class, but only a 40% to keep a B? If so, since it is stressful to study for everything in a few weeks, maybe spend more time on the class you think you can get an A in, and maybe do not prioritize the other class. I'm not saying don't study at all, but maybe spending more time on one class than the other would be better.

Spread out your studing

One of the worst things to do for a final exam, or any exam for that matter, is to cram for hours the night before. Retention is higher when you spread out your studying, plus you can only spend 1 or 2 hours a day on that class instead of 8 in one night, which seems easier if you break your time into chunks.

Take care of yourself

Can't remember the last time you ate food? Go eat! Are you really stressed out and need to take a mental break? Go for a walk, exercise, or just watch an episode of your favorite show. Need some extra motivation? Call you friends/family and they'll give you the motivation to keep going.

Finals week might be the most stressful week of the year, but you got this!

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