April 28, 2010

The Season of Presentations

It's the end of the semester here. Actually, the end of the school year. And you know what that means: Presentations. Every so often I'll hear a classroom somewhere in the Library erupt in polite applause and I'll know someone else has completed their final presentation and can sit back down and stop sweating. At least until their next exam. I was thinking about these students wrapping up a semester full of information in a 15 minute talk and wonder how many of them use PowerPoint. What do you want to bet it's close to 80%.

On Monday there was an article published online by the New York Times titled We Have Met The Enemy and He Is PowerPoint. The article quickly makes the point that PowerPoint presentations are running rampant in government meetings and have become more of a hindrance than a good. The article, written by Elisabeth Bumiller, says "behind all the PowerPoint jokes are serious concerns that the program stifles discussion, critical thinking and thoughtful decision-making. Not least, it ties up junior officers — referred to as PowerPoint Rangers — in the daily preparation of slides, be it for a Joint Staff meeting in Washington or for a platoon leader’s pre-mission combat briefing in a remote pocket of Afghanistan."

I can't help but wonder: are we preparing these PowerPoint Rangers? Are we setting the next generation up for ""death by PowerPoint,” the phrase used to described the numbing sensation that accompanies a 30-slide briefing?" I know that there are definitely positives to PowerPoint presentations, but I do wonder if it's gotten a bit out of control. And it's very true that I am not in these classes from which the spontaneous clapping arises so I don't know how their presentations are done, but I do hope there's more creativity and depth out there than PowerPoint alone can offer.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just sat through a workshop with four (4) PowerPoint shows! I have experienced the journey of Lewis and Clark in four different ways and my butt is numb.