Saturday, December 13, 2008

A semester without PowerPoint

I'll confess, I'm one of those horrible instructors who uses PowerPoint.

I think I do it correctly -- I don't put too much information on each slide. I use the slides for discussion prompts etc... BUT -- I do use it.

My reason is simple -- I generally teach multiple sections of Ethics or Intro to Philosophy. This means that I also write very similar exams for each section -- and I don't want to leave something out of one section that I include in the other section -- and then expect both sections to know it for the exam.

In Spring, I only have one section of Ethics and one section of Medical Ethics. Since I don't need to coordinate multiple sections, I don't need PowerPoint.... or, maybe I don't need so much of it.

The thing is, I don't think that PowerPoint actually increases student learning. They might print the slides and use them to structure their notes -- but, I don't think they actually DO that very often. Instead, when a new slide comes up -- they take their attention away from me or their classmates, they read it and write down what it says. This is pretty irritating, especially when what the screen says is what we've been talking about all along (i.e. I get ahead of my slides...).

I think, instead of having a separate set of slides for every class -- I'm going to have one longer set of slides -- for the whole semester. I may use one or two slides for the whole class (both are evening classes, so that's one or two per night). I'll use the slide to do something like give the bullet points of an ethical theory -- so it is more like an object we'll talk about --- rather than a way of providing an outline for our lecture/discussion.

I'm also considering ways to prompt them to bring their textbook to class -- maybe I'll have a low-point "textbook quiz", in which they get a point or two for writing down what it says on line X of page A.


Anonymous said...

Wait, you're assuming your students actually BOUGHT the textbook? I have never failed to be amazed at home many people I've seen who didn't buy the textbook (even grad students...)

Dr. Crazy said...

I have a policy on my syllabus that if you don't have whatever we're discussing for that day (book, an article that was accessible online but that I expect you to print out to have in front of you) that I'll dismiss you from class and you'll be charged with an absence. I typically do that no more than once in a semester, and it takes care of the problem.

Breena Ronan said...

The problem with powerpoint is that students think that they are learning from the slides and so many are irritated if you don't use powerpoint.
I like to use photos, but I suppose there aren't as many photos needed when teaching philosophy?