Presentation software such as PowerPoint and Google Presentation have received some negative publicity in the explosion that is Web 2.0. As tools have become more advanced, these basic presentation formats have lost some of their luster. However, I find that when used correctly, these presentation applications have a relative advantage in the classroom.
As a kindergarten teacher, I need to put together lessons that are prepared in advance. They need to have interactivity and be visually appealing. Presentation tools give me the freedom to insert graphics and video. I can place important links within the presentation so that the flow of my lesson is not lost. Webmaster Madeleine Decker shared her thoughts on PowerPoint with Education World: “I don’t think anything can beat Microsoft PowerPoint for the look of sophistication and ease of use”. Although I find other presentation tools can sometimes meet my needs in ways a PowerPoint cannot, I do agree that as far as their simplicity and ease of use, they are superior.
This ease is not only helpful for me as a teacher, but for my students as well. Children can easily understand presentation tools and how to edit slides, making this a good format for their own presentations. They can remain on one slide while they work. The toolbar is easy to discern so that reading words is not even necessary. This is helpful for young students, such as my five and six year-old kindergarteners.
I do think that presentation tools have encountered some negative feelings due to how some utilize the tools. Some presenters will place too much text or graphics on a slide making the presentation overwhelming. Others may use poor color, font, or graphics choices that distract from the goals of the presentation. Raleigh Kung of eHow states that, “some students and teachers may focus on these functions too much and end up undermining their own presentation”. I have seen presentations such as this and it was difficult to watch. I left the session feeling frustrated and was unable to take something positive from the setting because of the presentation. I do not, however, feel that the tool was the reason for these feelings; it was how the presentation was prepared and delivered.
When I create a presentation, I keep presenter tips in mind, such as those that Garr Reynolds suggests. I do, however, also consider my audience. I am not always presenting to a group of teachers or professionals. The presentations I prepare are sometimes for kindergarten students. Thus, fun clip art is entertaining and not cheesy. Bright colors (within reason) can be attractive. Basic fonts that match the handwriting the students learn in the classroom is necessary for students. I sometimes find it necessary to use Comic Sans, which many find plain and boring. However, the formation of the letters my students are learning match the letters of this font. So, even though my presentations to my students may sometimes break the suggested rules, I feel it is necessary.
As tools increase in numbers and become more advanced, a poor PowerPoint or Google Presentation may seem outdated. However, when used correctly, it is still a relevant, interactive, and easy to use tool that can be useful in the classroom.