- The instructor doesn't have multiple sections of the same course.
- The students are well-prepared and/or at least able to effectively take notes.
- The class size is under 30.
- I know that roughly the same material is covered in every section... because the PowerPoint provides a structure for the lecture/discussion. I know that if I got to the end of the slides for the day, my students were exposed to the material and thus I can expect them to know it -- or, at least to be able to ask intelligent questions about it. In my 'pre-PowerPoint' days, with multiple sections I repeated myself more often than was necessary OR I skipped material because I'd recently (as in, the last week/hour) presented it to a different section. This isn't good.
- My students can use the PowerPoint slides to:
stuff from the discussion/lecture.
b) structure their reading -- the PowerPoint gives them a brief outline of the
direction of the discussion so they can figure out what is really relevant within the
reading. Philosophy uses readings in multiple ways, especially the canonical
philosophers, so figuring out how a particular reading applies to your course
isn't always easy.
c) recall/study/write exam answers or papers. This way they get it right -- they know
we discussed X concept in class, they can go back to the reading etc..
d) see how I've analyzed other issues -- I keep the old PowerPoints available so that
ethics students writing on a topic not covered in class can get a brief introduction to
a topic we aren't discussing.
e) catch-up or review material discussed in class. I don't use the publisher's slides for
my logic textbook. They move too slowly and some of the information is wrong -- but,
since I used them once, corrected the problems etc... my students who need more
information can use them as a reference.
- In large classes PowerPoint helps make things clear. Students can see the text more readily than they can read what I've written on the board. The basics are explained so the dumb-asses don't have to waste the whole class' time asking basic questions. I can go back if something I've said later makes an earlier slide confusing. I can also tell them to look at the PowerPoint when the miss class, because I'm not re-teaching them...
I also tend not to use PowerPoint in professional contexts -- and, if I do, I only use it to display the main argument in my talk. One to three slides at best -- and they are simple. I agree that PowerPoint isn't useful or helpful in those contexts -- and I can see why members of the military are quite wary of it.
But -- I'll defend it's use in particular teaching environments. It helps me help my students by making the basic points so that we can move on to the more complex ideas.