Flickr CC by Wesley Freyer

Has PowerPoint revolutionized humanity to the point that it will be endured as the turning point of human ingenuity, or is it merely a ripple in the consciousness of humanity?  Likely, most users and viewers of PowerPoint have not contemplated the infinity or decline of this tool, but I have been challenged with considering the relative advantage of using it in the classroom.  As I read through resources regarding the effective use or advantages of using PowerPoint, my mind tended to lean toward a more philosophical consideration of how it will stand the test of time.

Please don’t judge me of any disposition against PowerPoint for I do use it as an effective tool in the classroom.  One of the clear advantages that I have observed is the visual power that it offers.  As I work with English language learners, I see that long wordy dictionary definitions are practically useless, when all my students need are visual connections to the meaning of a word.  I have used PowerPoint effectively for these purposes.  Other advantages include: the relatively user friendly access,  the ease of digital sharing, the motivational stimulus of the audience, and a great format for organizing content (Teachnology, n.d.).

One dilemma in determining the longevity of PowerPoint has to do with the educational transition from teacher centered  to student centered instruction. The more teacher centered a classroom is, I believe the effectiveness of PowerPoint will decline.  The more student centered a classroom is, I believe PowerPoint still has a lot of potential.  Students that are encouraged to create in PowerPoint will benefit more from the learning experience than just being a mere spectator. In addition, these students also need to be taught presentation techniques so they don’t make the infamous dreaded PowerPoint presentations.

For teachers, I believe the essence of PowerPoint has seen its “heyday” for offering the audience a novelty.  Of course, it can be used as a canvas for any creative design and presentation that can still “oooh” an audience, and PowerPoint has also adapted advanced feature that offer more bells and whistles, but the idea of putting a quadratic presentation in front of a group of students has lost some of its zing.  This, perhaps, might be related to the poor use of PowerPoint by teachers through the years, but it could also be related to emerging technologies.

The amount of people-power required to make something visually stimulating and engaging is often more than what a solo teacher can give.  Take for example the overhead projector and the VCR of the 80’s.  For the production in the VCR, a team of people worked diligently to create something entertaining and visually engaging.  One teacher with the overhead projector was not able to compete on the same level of entertainment, and the visual engagement was lacking.  However, the teacher did have the advantage of engaging in real time with humanistic interactions that appealed directly to the learner.  Nowadays, PowerPoint cannot compete with visual and audio rich media that is easily available, but the teacher still has the advantage of making a humanistic connection while using PowerPoint as a tool.

John Fiske, author of “Understanding Popular Culture”, states, “To be made into popular culture, a commodity must also bear the interest of the people” (Fiske, 2010).  This idea more than anything influences my thought that PowerPoint may eventually fade in importance.  The teachers that use it, will possibly lose interest due to the time consuming quality it has to not only create, but to stay current.  The students that view it and make it, already seem to be losing interest and opting for more rich media options such as YouTube.  Also, there are other web based tools, like VoiceThread and Prezi  offer other stimulating features and are starting gain popularity.  These web based tools along with Google tools offer the advantage integrating presentations easily on the web and it is easier on the budget.  PowerPoint has attempted to adapt, but is it going to be enough for….. oh, let’s say 100 years.

Reference:

No author specified. (n.d.). PowerPoint In the Classroom. TeAchnology. Education. Retrieved September 30, 2012, from http://www.teach-nology.com/tutorials/powerpoint/
Fiske, J. (2010). Understanding Popular Culture. Taylor & francis. p.19

 

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