Having spent this morning preparing for a little talk on study skills this afternoon and putting together a little presentation, I was a little disconcerted to see Mark Goodacre's blog reference to The Pain of Powerpoint. There are some great links to other reading...and these have blessed my life for the last few minutes. I particularly like the Missing Link presentation/tutorial which you can Download attentionspam.pdf from their site.
I agree with Mark that technology can kill a presentation - and there are so many hassles about getting the technology to work and making sure the projector is powerful enough and so on.
However, I am not so sure that I agree with all the negative hype about powerpoint. If it is based on Ludditism - i.e. I don't need all this trendy computerised stuff - an hour's lecture never did me any harm - then read your 'how people learn' textbooks, guys.
Secondly, i just wonder whether anti-powerpointism goes the other way of this snobbish reaction - to appear to be one better than everyone else. "Bullet-points? O dear, they are so last season! Didn't you know we're into the visual now!" Well I can see the point and the missing link session made me think even more. But at times, it is really helpful to have the information up there on the screen - not least because sometimes speakers are so random that it is the only bit that does make sense!
I have to say that at Cliff we use powerpoint in conjunction with interactive whiteboards on which you can also show videos/dvds and surf the net and so on. This has really helped in the film/arts-based units I am developing since we can watch some clips and then slip over into a powerpoint about some aspect of Christology or jump to a Gospel parallels website or go to a whiteboard (usually green board to help eyesight...) and start a discussion running or highlight aspects of the powerpoint presentation or the movie or whatever. This interactivity is great fun and avoids the need to be so down on the technology.
Of course, the issue is to use visuals rather than words - the tutorial suggests only six words per screen at most - somewhere else suggests writing telegraphically - £1 a word! On screen less is more because what you need to sell is you - the presenter - and the message you are presenting. The powerpoint mustn't be your cue cards.
But at last year's SBL meeting, PPT was a useful tool for so many. Although at Spring Harvest, where it is also used so much, I saw Gerard Kelly using it mostly for visuals - he would find a visual representation of his message and leave that up - it drew the eye, made connections and left the verbal input to Gerard and his talking. It was effective. Perhaps I have been too scared to leave the words behind - caught up in the trap of thinking that lots of words on the screen is a good policy.
Dunno. Perhaps I might be a bit Luddite myself in my response to the marketting revolution unfolding against PPT? I suppose the problem is it is so Microsoft and so so universal. Perhaps if it wasn't ubiquitous it would be more enthusiastically embraced - familiarity breeds contempt? ...and presumably also loss of effect. I think I need to spend some time and some energy using presentations as visual aids rather than information dissemination techniques - leave that to the handouts - which I always give out at the end of the lecture anyway, just to annoy the students!!! (Joke, honest!!!)