Science Teaching Series

Internet Resources

I. Developing Scientific Literacy

II. Developing Scientific Reasoning

III. Developing Scientific Understanding

IV. Developing Scientific Problem Solving

V. Developing Scientific Research Skills

VI. Resources for Teaching Science

Dangers of PowerPoint

Technology does not improve teaching
Sue Davis / Guest Columnist
October 22, 2004

Source: CSUN Daily Sundial

I know it seems like a cool technology at first glance. No writing on the board, no flipping overhead transparencies around until they read correctly.

In practice, it turns out to be just one more thing standing in the way of teachers engaging students in meaningful learning.

Here is how it goes: The lights dim, the teacher fools around with the laptop for a while, and then the show begins. The first slide pops up with a bunch of text, sometimes with cool animated transformation effects.

The instructor either reads the text or reads it and elaborates on it a little. Then they try to move on to the next slide, saying "It isn't important to copy down the whole thing, just get the gist of it," but there are always those obsessive-compulsive students who can't help themselves. They just have to copy every word, so, they beg for the teacher to leave the slide up longer, writing furiously, while everyone else sits there, bored.

One of my instructors just copies and pastes text straight from the textbook. If he uses examples, they always come from the book, too. So, I bring my highlighter and book to class and madly page through the chapter, finding the text shown on the slide, so I can highlight it. It keeps me following along, but it isn't exactly challenging my intellectual capabilities to their utmost.

Another professor makes PowerPoint presentations of such stunning length and complexity that it is invariably thirty seconds before the class is over before she shouts "Any questions"? over the din of people packing their backpacks and leaving.

Of course, there aren't any questions at that point, and everyone in the class is completely lost. When one brave student finally admitted as much, and everyone else agreed, the instructor said "But the information was all there!"

Yes, it was all there. It just didn't get to us, and she didn't notice because she was too busy getting though the presentation instead of actually teaching.

I long for the old days when the instructor would write on the board. Then they would at least move around, write some things large, draw diagrams, underline for emphasis and look around the classroom as they talked.

At times, they would even call on students!

Interacting with students. How crazy is that?

Can we go back to those days? Because this PowerPoint thing sucks. It doesn't make good teachers any better, and it makes poor teachers really stink. I'm ready for December already.


Sue Davis is a senior journalism major.