Teaching Without PowerPoint

So today I decided to override the wishes of the students and give an old-fashioned lecture. The one where you stand in front of the classroom and speak and sometimes write things on the board with chalk.

And I have to say that it was a strangely exhilarating experience. It also seemed to impress the students a lot. I saw an emotional response on their faces (I was talking about World War I). And after the end of the class, two students came up to me to ask what I was teaching next semester. Three other students approached me to say how much they enjoyed the class.

I’m a huge fan of technology and all but I have to admit that this got me thinking.

Students claim they love PowerPoint. But do they really?


10 thoughts on “Teaching Without PowerPoint

  1. It is more engaging I swear! Looking at a screen lulls you into a zombieish state. Poor lecturers really need them because lulled into looking at pretty pictures is better than falling asleep, but it wastes the talents of a great lecturer!


  2. PP is loved since it saves the effort of writing material down. Sometimes it does greatly improve matters. If, f.e. it’s a course in engineering, instead of trying to draw numerous complicated circuit diagrams, which simply isn’t possible during lesson time, students can bring all printed diagrams to lecture and add comments, arrows, etc. In not exact sciences imho PP isn’t very necessary. It can be used instead of good old maps and pictures (like you showed here once a man on a horse) to make lecture more interesting, so I am not against it. Whether PP puts students to sleep or not depends on the lecturer and the benefits PP brings depend on the nature of the course.


  3. As a student I always hated power point. I felt like professors used it without knowing how to use it in a good way.

    My very favorite method was a lecture prof that had a docu-cam, and would write his notes on the projector as he taught, so we could write at a reasonable pace.

    I have also had the pleasure of having one professor (and a second one who subbed for one day in a different class) who could simply talk, and had enough experience to know how fast to go for our writing to keep up, and when to pause for questions.

    There is a place for power point, and ways to use it that are very powerful, especially for marketing professionals. But delivering a large amount of academic knowledge isn’t necessarily enhanced by slapping it in a power point and projecting it up on the screen.


  4. I don’t like it, mostly because in high school it was part of the reason I almost failed AP Physics at one point.

    I learn better when I actually have to copy something as the professor is speaking and writing. And it gives me time to think. PowerPoint presentations often have so much information in them–and I don’t learn a thing from them.

    There are times when it can be used effectively, though, especially when there are diagrams and pictures that would take too long to draw. It’s also nice to be able to link to a video.


  5. PowerPoint is a tool, not a method. I agree with the other commenters who state that there are good and bad ways of using it. As a student, I find it very helpful when used well. When used poorly, it’s a bad lecture, which can also occur without PowerPoint.


  6. There is nothing like taking notes. As you take notes you process the information. As Kellen writes, professors have to learn how to keep a reasonable pace while lecturing (I tend to be carried away and I start to speak fast) and to know when to pause for questions.

    I also think that we are at a point in which we still do not know how to use PowerPoint properly. I only use PowerPoint as a “visual organizer.”

    Students appreciate a good old lecture once in a while.


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