PowerPoints are useful aids for instructors

By Parker Happ

As a sophomore, my chemistry professor detested utilizing any other sort of teaching aid for note-taking except for the wretched overhead projector. She would scribble in handwriting as legible as chicken scratches with her arthritic, joint-bulging hand while rambling on about covalent bonds. Between the class style and glare off the whiteboard from the projector, that was enough to leave me with a headache most lectures. What I realized, though, is that teaching style and catering to multiple learning styles is critically important when taking into account teaching techniques. The more learners you cater to, between auditory, visual or tactile/kinesthetic learners, the better a message can get across to students. Just utilizing one method, like an overhead, is ineffective. That said, PowerPoints are just another critical part of the education equation and should be utilized in classroom as a learning aid.

Some call them boring, but PowerPoints offer advantages such as the ability for teachers to organize data and create a message. Once that message is created, PowerPoints distributed online through blackboard prepare students for what they will learn about in class.

Also, students can gain a “big picture” focus on what lectures are going to be about when slides are posted online ahead of time. Instead of having the awkward moment when a professor asks, “What do you all think about [insert complex topic here],” and students reply back with blank stares and drops of drool slowly pooling at the corners of their mouths, slide presentations create conversation through organization. Students could create questions pertaining to the PowerPoints online. This clarity on subject matter leads to classes running smoother and can create schemas for subject matter ahead of time preventing blank stares and stalled class discussions.

Oftentimes, the notes I take from professor’s slides are relevant to potential information that will be on finals too. Why not get that information sooner and have access to it online whenever I want?

It is key to remember that, despite technology being a fantastic resource furthering the dissemination of information at an ever increasing rate, technology is only as good as how it is utilized. What I mean is that we need to realize that PowerPoints are not cruxes to classrooms – rather they are visual aids – and that is how we should look at them.

Technology is not and should not be looked at as the only answer to education. But in our image-obsessed culture hell-bent on constant progress, sometimes straying to innovate can completely go haywire and create unnecessary spending on technologies. Think of the smart classrooms that we have here at NIU. Do you think the entire faculty was consulted on what they would want to have in the classrooms and what would aid them technologically in teaching students? The answer to this question is no.

Too often school districts and universities throw money at education through technology, yet cut teacher pay and expect positive results from the luminous screens of PC’s as if they were oracles of some sort. It is important to remember that computers are only as useful as the people who utilize them. When professors develop diverse educational strategies that combine PowerPoints, online articles, Socratic discussion and weekly homework assignments in the classroom, this only stands to help students.

Aaron is probably going to argue ‘PowerPoint presentations make teachers lazy because they will rely on slides for lecturing about far too much information.’ I would argue that slides are effective as teachers streamline lectures and highlight points more efficiently. Anyway, Aaron just hates innovation as he still has a Hotmail account. Get with the times, Brooks! Technology is here to stay in the classroom!