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