Monday, March 09, 2009

Grad class PowerPoint Assignment - ARGH!

I can't let this go. C, I won't use your name, and I don't know where you're taking this grad class, so I won't be bashing the fine institution, but I HAVE to share this.

I just read a tweet from a person who is taking a Grad course in "Technology and Leadership" for Principal certification. Got it? "Technology and Leadership" is the name of the course. An assignment was made to make an 8 slide presentation to analyze your school's tech plan, etc. This person was penalized 1/2 point because the PowerPoint didn't have any transitions or animations!

That scream you heard just a bit ago? That was me, again. ARRRGGGHHH!!!!!

A few years ago I sent out a tip (that was in my pre-blog days, so that tip is LONG gone) that pointed to a study that showed some fascinating results. Three control groups were used. In the first group the professor used overhead transparencies. IN the second group the professor used PowerPoint slides with NO animation or transitions. In the third group the professor used a PowerPoint that DID contain animations and transitions. Test scores between the first two groups were consistently even. But, test scores of the third group (the group that suffered through the animations) were consistently 10% (ten percent) LOWER! I SO wish I could find that article again (I FOUND IT!!) to give to this person to share with this professor.

So, several things bother me with this assignment.
  • First, assigning a PowerPoint for this kind of a question pretty much guarantees that there will be a lot of text and bullets on those 8 slides. To fully discuss your school's tech plan requires more than 8 slides - or lots of text, I would think.
  • Second, to insist that the person use transitions and animations presumes that these folks don't yet know how to do that, and they are being told to do so, in spite of the need for a transition or animation to make a point. Heaven help us if a person going for Principal certification doesn't know enough HOW to animate a slide AND know enough WHEN to do so.
  • Third, it is an unstated perception, then, that the use of transitions and animations is a good thing, and therefore a "look-for" that a principal should use when observing a teacher or students and their PowerPoints.
  • Fourth, in a Grad class dealing with technology, holding PowerPoint up as the ultimate in personal expression is outrageous! Don't you wonder what other wonders of technology these folks will be exposed to? Perhaps... Frontpage?
Help me out here. Am I wrong to be outraged over this? A Grad class for Principal certification and THAT is the best that can be assigned? Where is the modeling of GOOD, effective technology? Where is... ARGH!.... ANY value at all in that assignment? There is FAR too much at stake for us to be tolerant any longer with such CRAP! Agreed?


Louise Maine said...

Exactly. And how can principals identify great teaching and innovation when they have not experienced it or seen it themselves?

Dan Callahan said...

As I said on Twitter, even before seeing your information about animations lowering comprehension, people should receive more credit for doing without animations, not less. A gigantic waste of time and effort on both the part of the presenter and the audience in almost every situation.

Dean Shareski said...


I feel your pain. Teaching my undergrads I tell them they are charged with ridding the world of poor presentations. Give me the name of this prof and I'll send my students after them. Sheesh, I've got 8 year olds that have already figured this one out.

ONeal said...

Huh - I thought you were supposed to put as many animations, sounds, transitions, text and bullets per slide as possible. Also I heard that using a black background with dark blue text and huge word art titles is a definite plus.

Following D. Pink thought process it is almost pointless to teach how to use a technology if you are not going to teach how to create a proper design with that technology.

Anonymous said...

Back when I was teaching 7th graders how to do powerpoint, their first assignment was to make a presentation breaking all the rules, ie - UGLY. Since most Principal's know less the the average 7th grader, they have to learn it sometime!

mrsdurff said...

So you're saying it couldn't be slides with text with voice added like in a presentation? Okay, I would fail utterly. Transitions and Effects are taught in technical courses not in the course you describe.

Jim Gates said...

This powerpoint was meant to be used for talking points, I'm sure. I believe that they weren't merely turned in, but were presented. Therefore, the need to have voice over the slides wasn't there. Sorry I didn't make that part clear. I hadn't thought of it.