Possibilities with Powerpoint!
Microsoft Powerpoint is an application that has been embraced within the educational community since 1987 primarily as a visual aid within presentation contexts. Most are aware of Powerpoint’s ability to help presenters to lay out and organize textual and graphical information within a “slide show” or progression of pages.
Most people use Powerpoint in the same fashion. They collect all of the information they plan to present and plot the majority of it within slides using bits of graphics, bulleted lists, and font effects to highlight and accentuate certain information. They print their slides and pass them out to their audience. Then, they proceed to present their slides to their audience.
We have all likely experienced this from both sides. Do we agree that the experience tends to be boring? How much information do we retain as an audience member of this type of presentation? How much understanding do we demonstrate as a presenter of this type of presentation? Not much! For these reasons and more, this form of Powerpoint presentation has come to be known as “death by Powerpoint.” Scary.
Dr. Ransom has recently helped us EDTS students to learn about better ways to incorporate Powerpoint into classroom instruction. He has emphasized the need to embrace Powerpoint as a tool and a support and never to rely on it as a primary means. Powerpoint should never be the primary focus. A “slide show” can never be as dynamic, animated, and articulate as a real teacher, so why would we teachers ever step aside and let the “slide show” take over??
There is a lot of information available on the internet about this Powerpoint predicament and what can be done to avoid “death by Powerpoint.” Additionally, while not well known, Powerpoint can be used as more than a presentation aid. In response to Dr. Ransom’s recent request to explore the possibilities of Powerpoint and to design an engaging activity, I learned how to create an animated story with questions, answers, and dynamic feedback to support the teaching of prepositions to students within a 6:1:1 special education classroom setting. The activity could also be implemented within other appropriate settings.
My design was inspired by “Living Books,” which I have witnessed students enjoy a great deal. The story is illustrated with animated picture communication symbols (PECS), sound effects, and music. After reading, listening, and watching a scene, the student is prompted to answer a question involving the use of a preposition. Correct and incorrect feedback is provided and the student must select the correct answer in order to proceed. I designed the activity to support both independent and assisted learning. Audio narration is optional, allowing for a human narrator to take over.
After creating the activity in a recent version of Powerpoint, I realized that compatibility could be an issue. Seeking to overcome the requirement of running Powerpoint or Powerpoint Viewer (since many educators cannot run their own programs on school computers), I discovered a free application called iSpring which allowed me to convert the PPT file to a SWF flash video file which is viewable from an internet browser! (assuming Flash is installed) Click here to check out my first attempt at using Powerpoint in a more non-traditional fashion. Feel free to provide feedback! I am interested to hear your thoughts!