Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Corruption in All Its Forms

I found a reference on a blogline to University Diaries, which looks to be an interesting website devoted to uncovering the false faces of the university and life in general. (Or perhaps it's just b/c I've been reading Chaucer's "Pardoner's Tale" and have deceit on my mind...)

Two posts struck me especially :

  • the first just a term -- "sacred corrupt spaces" which resonates with all sorts of philosophical ideas (Bahktin and Agamben's especially) that should be explored someday.
  • The second is more universal: PowerPoint. I've had a bugaboo with Power Point since teaching middle school, where the kids loved it yet couldn't properly use it. I always intended to do a lesson on how to use it, but they covered it in Computer Science class and I thought I'd avoid stepping on toes when I had enough to teach. But my problems stemmed from how it's used: cram lots of text onto a page and then deliver the presentation from that text, add cutesy graphics and present. Its only real function is to grab people's attention and offer them an outline of your major points. University Diaries suggests augmenting a presentation with something that you can't do in words: visuals. I think this is a great idea & would be interested to see it put into practice. I can think of a million ways that graphics can help aid a presentation, but few in which words or clipart will. Yet it is becoming a standard in the office world and schools, but, alas, without any real instruction in it. Perhaps it is taught more efficiently when students take a communications class in high school, but at that point bad habits are already ingrained.
So, anyone ever seen any great PowerPoint presentations? What makes a presentation need a PowerPoint? (In fact, this reminds me of what my Dad always says about the purpose of video, but I'll let him comment on that. :->)

1 comment:

Tim said...

I can tell you some of the things that don't make a good power point presentation...I've seen enough of them! First, don't talk to you slides. A lot of presenters use their slides as a crutch and read directly from them as if the audience can't read it for themselves...and they face the slides and talk to them rather than the audience...people could get up and leave and the place could be completely empty and these morons wouldn't have noticed!

Some presenters,especially if it's complex like engineering or software design,put up charts or schematics that're so busy they're impossible to decipher...or they put so much text on the screen that it's difficult to read. A good rule of thumb that I've heard is the six pack rule: no more than six lines and no more that six words per line. I don't see anything wrong with adding creative transitions between slides...it makes it more interesting. Of course I think adding video to enhance your presentation is a great idea.

Seriously, video can be a great addition to you presentation but you do have to be mindful of the strengths and weaknesses of the medium. Video is a great show and tell medium. Take woodworking as an example. You can tell someone how to make something and show them plans but if you can show them how while you're telling them it's much more powerful and effective. Text is much better for detailed and in depth information. That's another reason reason the marriage of text and video on the Internet is such a powerful combination. It's the best of both worlds.