Thursday, February 21, 2008

A cool use for PowerPoint

So -- as usual, my pal Julie has made me think.... this time I'm thinking about how to use PowerPoint.

I'm going to use it in a very interactive way...

On the first day of the "Death and Dying" unit, I'm going to give each student a handout. On the handout will be two statements about physician assisted suicide. Their assignment will be to come to the following meeting with the "pro" and "con" arguments concerning each statement... I'll then arrange them in groups and have each group come up with their favorite pro and con arguments.

The cool bit comes next -- as we talk, I'll fill in the blank parts of the PowerPoint.... I'll try to do it in class... if that doesn't work, I'll take notes on my own blank PowerPoint and fill in their arguments (assuming they get the good arguments I want them to :) ). I may ask for a volunteer to type -- but I think I'd rather do it myself to make sure we get what we need into the slide....

The PowerPoint slide will then be the collective class recollection of the discussion --- and it will be available for them when it comes time to study for the second exam...

cool, huh?


kalbir said...


I've been teaching a course on the philosophy of language where I do something similar to this that you might be interested in. I've separated the class into three groups of four (quite a small one I know!) and then I get them to discuss the reading in the week between the sessions in their groups (pace Katherine Hawley. I then set them some questions which involve forming an argument for certain conclusions (in the introductory session I used "The matrix is real", "It is better to be in the matrix than the truman show").

I have also set them up password protected wiki sites at jottit, one for each group. I ask them to put their arguments on the wiki site and then at the beginning of the class I bring up the site on the projection screen and we discuss their arguments: considering both soundness and the believability of the premises.

There have been some problems with less motivated students but generally the students have found this method both useful and mopre enjoyable than a more traditional discussion session. The material is already on the web so it is easy to connect to any course websites. Anyone with the password can edit the site.

This brings up some options for the way that you are working. If you moved from entering the arguments into powerpoint to adding them to a jottit page you could set up pages alongside the ones with the arguments on that the students could use to comment on/discuss the arguments outside of the sessions.

Of course you may have the resources to do this withing software that your university already has, in the UK (where I am teaching) there is a high number of Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) that incorporate areas to store documents in their simplest forms but have wiki pages, discussion forums and other useful tools on top of this at the university I teach at. We use Blackboard.

Hope that this is interesting!


Bardiac said...

Oh, what a GREAT idea!

julie said...

Yeah! I do *exactly* this, more often as a Word doc than PPt, in class discussions when we're generating "what do we think?" stuff.

In fact, I have a separate section in each class's CMS especially for the "class notes" section we generate as a group. (For instance, on the first day of this semester's lit course, we brainstormed a "what we already know about American lit" as a way to shape the course readings/structure/focus.)

Thanks for the compliments, pal.