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New CFT Guide on Making Better PowerPoint Presentations

Posted by on Wednesday, January 5, 2011 in News.

by Derek Bruff, CFT Assistant Director

Ever seen a bad PowerPoint presentation? Ever given one yourself? Although some have said that PowerPoint is evil (“Power corrupts. PowerPoint corrupts absolutely.”), I assert that PowerPoint is merely a tool, one that can be used well or used poorly. Ways to use PowerPoint effectively aren’t always obvious, however. We don’t often see effective PowerPoint presentations, so we don’t have great examples in our minds when we sit down to design a set of slides. The default slide layout in PowerPoint (title + bullet list) doesn’t often do us any favors, either. So how can you use PowerPoint well?

My colleague Rhett McDaniel (CFT Educational Technologist) has put together a great new teaching guide for the CFT titled “Making Better PowerPoint Presentations.” Drawing on neuroscience research about how the brain processes auditory and visual information, as well as educational research showing what students appreciate about good PowerPoint presentations, Rhett provides a great set of recommendations for using PowerPoint well. Here’s one highlight:

Leverage the working memory by dividing the information between the visual and auditory modality.  Doing this reduces the likelihood of one system becoming overloaded. For instance, spoken words with pictures are better than pictures with text, as integrating an image and narration takes less cognitive effort than integrating an image and text.

The guide also includes a useful bibliography of books and articles with additional advice on making good use of PowerPoint and other slideware programs.

Have you seen a particularly effective PowerPoint presentation? Do you have a slide or two that worked well for you in your class? Please share in the comments!

Image: “Warning: Slides,” Garr Reynolds

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