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Because Most Professors Suck at PowerPoint…

… students constantly write sad pieces in the campus newspaper advising them, in the simplest terms, how to use it.

But, as this University of Kansas student knows, instruction in the technology don’t mean shit if you’re using it because you’re lazy, unimaginative, or incompetent.

… Some people seem to make slides only because they think they have to. Others rely on PowerPoint to cover up their weaknesses, such as when they become nervous and simply read out texts on slides.

Call me old-fashioned, but I’d rather not have a PowerPoint unless it’s well-made. One of my favorite instructors, for example, never used PowerPoint in his class. He always made his point clear and I never felt bored in class. His animated expression and gestures showed his passion for his subject, which drew me to the class.

And as a University of Alabama student notes:

You pay thousands of dollars to attend our fine University, not to mention the hundreds of dollars you are forced to spend on books. You head to class with your coffee and your copy of The Crimson White and take a seat. Your professor puts up his or her PowerPoint and starts to read it word for word. Literally. And it is literally word for word from your book.

At another university, a student says the same thing:

I took an art history class at Truman in which we spent endless hours flipping through PowerPoint slides of paintings while the professor read, one by one, the title of each work. We received mountains of information, but toward the end of the semester, one student sitting next to me actually pleaded under her breath, “Teach us something!”

Imagine what might happen if students all over the country began to organize. A Princeton student sees the possibilities:

The incomparable level of boredom Powerpoint inspires has …unite[d] a generation of young students trapped in lecture[s]…

PowerPoint. A deadly technology for dead people.

Eventually students will rise up against you.

Their signs will read TEACH US SOMETHING.

Margaret Soltan, March 4, 2009 4:34AM
Posted in: powerpoint pissoff

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8 Responses to “Because Most Professors Suck at PowerPoint…”

  1. meteechart Says:

    May I borrow the high horse for a moment, please?

    (speaking to world) Ahem. Take Design 101. Please.

    Learn better than 8 point Old English fonts. NEVER red text on blue. No drop shadows on text unless your entire audience can sit within 10 feet of the screen.

    Comprehend the first iota of Gestalt theory, just enough. Name five principles of design, then seek tonal contrast, never strong color contrast, for text.

    Those of us who know about these things will greatly appreciate your ability to utilize them at what we consider a ninth grade level. If you can not, we will know that your apparent respect for our field is nothing more than romanticized fluff. And, your audience will remain unable to pay attention to your visual aids.

    If someone versed in public speaking would like to borrow the high horse, it is available now.

  2. tzvee Says:

    there was an excellent article in new yorker 2001 about the SWOT of ppt. See http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2001/05/28/010528fa_fact_parker

  3. david foster Says:

    To what extent are these lousy presentations a functio of weak visual design skills (8-point fonts, red text on blue, etc) VS to what extent are they a function of professors who just don’t care enough about their teaching function to learn how to give an effective talk, and would be just as bad at giving a traditional, non-PowerPoint lecture? Or does the very existence of a tool like PowerPoint seduce people into thinking that the art of presentation is much simpler than it actually is? Do people subconsciously see P/P as kind of an autopilot for presentation design?

  4. The_Myth Says:

    Every time UD posts a PowerPoint criticism I am reminded of the request a student gave me once.

    You see, she wanted copies of my PowerPoint slides because she found it hard to listen to my lecture and write down everything on them.

    Except, well, I didn’t use PowerPoint AT ALL when I taught.

    In class, I either wrote on the markerboard, or, since my handwriting sucks, I would put a Word document with an outline up on the big screen behind me with all the big, fancy words I’d be using that came from the textbook. She didn’t recognize the words because she obviously hadn’t read (nor intended to read) the text.

    So, while I agree that most PP presentations are a waste, there is a VERY strong push back for proffies to take the students’ notes for them. Or else, face the chopping block of negative student evals.

    It’s all just a big mess.

  5. Jim C. Says:

    After years out of college, I went back as an older student, and I am HORRIFIED.

    I remember the days of brilliant lectures and capable speakers, where students sat and listened to professors profess and they took their own notes.

    Now, PowerPoint presentations have ruined college. Teachers spoon-feed the students point by point-taking– their notes for them is an apt way of putting it. Some of these younger teachers just load up the same presentation month after month.

    Even worse– since when does each teacher get away now with making each class 70% student oral reports? I pay good money for tuition, and I don’t appreciate being taught by students in so-called presentations, where the teacher sits back and does NOTHING.

    What a racket– a mess it indeed is. Every college class is like high school now.

    And that constant clacking of laptop keyboards while notes are being transcribed from bullet point to LCD screen is amazingly annoying. Every college class now sounds like a typing class!

  6. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Excellent comment, Jim, and you’ve touched most of the bases well.

    But you’ve forgotten other aspects of the racket: Using an entire class period to show a film. Routinely breaking students up into small discussion groups and doing little other than sitting at your desk while they chat among themselves. An entire course made up of guest speakers.

    I’m sure you and I have forgotten yet other aspects of, yes, a shameful, expensive racket. And universities are surprised when online for-profits wipe the floor with them.

  7. University Diaries » PowerPoint / CounterPowerPoint Says:

    […] university students are brutalized by PowerPoint on a daily […]

  8. University Diaries » ‘I took an art history class at Truman in which we spent endless hours flipping through PowerPoint slides of paintings while the professor read, one by one, the title of each work. We received mountains of information, but Says:

    […] quoted this in a post a long time ago, and its source – Truman State University’s newspaper – no longer has it […]

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