What I learnt this week: Is your powerpoint slide teaching or are you? #WILTW

This is the 98th #WILTW

A while ago I attended a workshop led by Carl May. He was talking to a research group I’m part of which is investigating Early Warning Systems for children. As a means of demonstrating the challenge of innovation becoming established in health services he discussed how teaching has changed since the advent of powerpoint. He made a brilliant observation that it is sometimes difficult to know if education is being delivered by the lecturer, or by the slides they are using.

Via Frits Ahlefeldt resourcelinkbce.wordpress.com
Via Frits Ahlefeldt resourcelinkbce.wordpress.com

Death by powerpoint is not a new phenomenon. Its continued existence implies that some habits are difficult to change. Teachers should teach. The learning they intend to impart should come directly from them. Visual aids should be a conduit rather than a ‘secondary’ teacher.

I was reminded of this when half-way through a talk I was giving I found myself thinking I might be odds with the very slide I was explaining. There is a zeitgeist at present of using word-less slides. Pictures, memes or infographics creating a scene which relies on the presenter to embellish. This means you must listen (and learn from) the person talking rather than be distracted by an avalanche of written information. This is easier said than done. Defining terminology, displaying data sets and describing theorem often require visual landmarks. There are no absolutes in life though and just because it might be difficult doesn’t mean it can’t be done.


My learning; to regain control of my teaching role and be the boss of my own presentations. This will involve not recycling what might be now out of context slides and asking “if this slides stands alone why am I needed?

What have you learnt this week? #WILTW

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