Bill MacKenty

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slashdot tackles educational technology

Posted in Educational Tech Design on 05 - September 2007 at 05:04 AM (16 years ago). 154 views.

Good old slashdot

has a great thread answering the question “How should I use technology to teach math and physics in High School?”.  The discussion forks all over the place (typically slashdotty) but it also makes some great points (typically slashdotty).

Powerpoint get’s beaten, soundly and fully, as it should be (see my comments below). Some choice quotes:

PowerPoint is very useful if the person using that tool uses it correctly. Unfortunately, most people use it incorrectly and write down every single thing that they’re planning on saying on a slide. If you’re going to do that, students will catch on and just think that they can get by with printing off the notes and skipping class because listening to the teacher will not help them understand the material any better. The catch is, they won’t understand it at all. Active learning helps people learn and remember facts and concepts way better than passive reading or listening. That’s why the best way to use PowerPoint is as a guide or outline to what you’re going to talk about. It forces people to use more than one sense to take everything in, and if they want notes on everything important from the lecture, they have to write it down themselves and actually comprehend it in the first place. (thank you:  FieronEtnl).


The point is, (as Edward Tufte so eloquently writes), it is exceptionally easy to screw up a powerpoint presentation. For those teachers/business people who read, verbatim, from a Powerpoint presentation, I posit that they are COMPLETELY MISSING THE POINT. The idea for powerpoint is to use a bulleted point to expand, extend and explain an important idea - not simply tick it off as something “our kids need to know”.

The slashdot conversation continues:

You’re using a display device for something that needs to be literally performed.
That’s a bad idea. When demonstrating a technique for the class to learn, you have to perform the act.
Students need to see how a solution is carried out actually, not just to see a solution. They are there to learn the techniques, not the results. _Displaying_ a solution is fine when all people are familiar with the techniques involved, and just need a quick glance about how you’ve applied them to this particular problem.
Displaying a solution when people are unfamiliar with the techniques is completely confusing.

The time spend rewriting the same things again and again is the time spent teaching.

“A result is nice, but a new way to look at things is great.” (thank you, Anonymous Coward).

The poster here is referring to multiple learning styles, and it’s important when we are designing a lesson to consider multiple learning styles. Some of our students will easily access flash-based animations, while other will do well with hands-on learning, while other will (gasp) respond well to lectures and didactic instruction.

There’s actually quite a bit more from this slashdot article, which I intend on covering in later blog posts. Until then, the penultimate lesson is “TECHNOLOGY IN EDUCATION REQUIRES DISCERNMENT”.