Resources for Educators

Teaching Tip

From the Teacher’s Aide Newsletter

2018 January

Do You Use Powerpoint®?

Powerpoint, anyone?In a recent discussion on EdNet (a Facebook group for massage educators), teachers were discussing the pros and cons, mostly cons, of using PowerPoint®. Some say that it may have become too much of a crutch, causing teachers to rely too heavily on slides to deliver content. Rather, slides should introduce topics or show appropriate images, and the teacher should deliver content for practice or discussion.

Teachers can deliver the content verbally, or by writing/drawing on the board, or by demonstration, or by any other creative means. But standing there waiting for students to copy what they see on the PowerPoint® slide seems to be less engaging (and it’s even worse if the teacher reads the slide out loud to the students!).

You may argue that giving the students copies (digitally or by handout) of the slides reduces the time spent waiting for students to take their own notes. I wonder, though, when students don’t have to take notes, how many students are paying good attention to the content while it’s being delivered and how many are thinking to themselves, “I’ll study the slides/notes later” but they never actually do that. (Maybe that’s a note-taking discussion for later.)

Overall, the use of presentation slides probably depends on the subject being taught, and the personal preferences of the teacher. If you do use PowerPoint® or any other program for presentation slides, here are a few tips for making the most effective use of your slides:

  • Use the slides as a tool for you, not your students. The topic or image on each slide should simply remind you of what you wanted to talk about or demonstrate.
  • Do not put more than 6 lines of text on a single slide. These should be no more than your main topic and subtopics from the day’s learning objectives.
  • Use images or graphics that illustrate or provoke the discussion you have in mind. In fact, the use of the right image may eliminate the need for any text on the slide at all.
  • Avoid the use of red and green combinations for emphasizing a point. Red-green colorblindness is the most common form.
  • Avoid using light text colors on darker backgrounds, unless your presentation screen is superb. Use darker text on light backgrounds instead. Generally, it’s harder for students to switch back and forth from a dark background on the screen to a light background on their notebook.
  • Sans serif fonts (like Helvetica) are generally easier to read on a screen than Serif fonts (like Times).
  • Be consistent. If you switch formats and fonts and colors on each slide, your students may have trouble following your outline and order.