When I originally turned this column in last week, I thought it would just be a good ol’ fashioned SchuRant about something I don’t like (and yet, like essays, hypocritically make use of in class all the time). My editor took one look at it and suggested we run my anti-PowerPoint article as a slideshow (on Google Doc Presentation, so that we could embed it). “It will make the piece more stupid,” he warned. “YOU HAD ME AT MORE STUPID,” I sobbed, and proceeded to spend far more time than I am willing to admit crafting this slideshow, which I designed myself, down to the amazing trigonometry demo and the world’s most important Venn Diagram.

PS: I have been getting a lot–a lot–of requests to share the Google Drive Presentation I used to make this article directly from my Google Drive. I’m very sorry, but I can’t do that! We used Google Drive (delightedly!) because of its delightful embed technology (and we are very, very grateful for it!), but this is now a Slate article, so if you want to access it, Slate‘s the way to do it!

If you would like to show it in class, or to your colleagues (I’ve gotten several requests about this), simply select the “full screen” option at the bottom of the presentation and it will take up the whole screen.

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11 thoughts on “A Slideshow Screed in Slides

  1. I felt like I fell into the slideshow trap for the first time this year. I’m pleased to say that they don’t make a lick of sense by themselves, and my students are completely stymied when they try to use them as study guides (to the point they stopped asking me to post them), but I don’t feel in the least bit vindicated by my apparently judicious use of this obnoxious piece of devil machinery.

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  2. Nicely done! Edward Tufte’s been ranting about this topic for at least a decade (see PowerPoint topics in http://www.edwardtufte.com/bboard/ ), but it’s great to see the word getting out in other forms. Whenever I use PowerPoint to try to convey anything, I think very carefully about the content, and stay vigilant to PowerPoints propensity to shred coherent thought and reasoning.

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  3. Love the slideshow. I created a “Presentation on Presentations” for my students to guide them around many of those pitfalls, and some more specific ones (using plenty of good & bad examples from my own prior research talks) in advance of their own in-class research presentations. I feel lucky that I TAd for a professor in my early grad school years who was a master of minimalist slides and engaging classroom lecture/conversation for a conservation biology course. Good models help generate more good teachers.

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  4. I said this on FB, but I’ll repeat it:

    One of our professors of chemistry back at Shorter College, Dean Turner (who now has a similar position at Dalton State – like me, he got out pre-Shorter implosion) always took the role of orienting our seniors on how to give an appropriate PowerPoint presentation for science during our annual fall Seminar Workshop. He gave the talk with half of his slides being examples of what NOT to do, which he explained completely deadpan. Several of his example slides (on cramming too much text on a slide, on how NOT to make text appear, on awful fonts – okay, he didn’t include Comic Sans, but still) were EXACTLY things you pointed out, and he ran those slides deadpan. (He also had one slide in particular that was the most nightmarish color combinations imaginable, to emphasize that the best possible presentation was good ol’ black-and-white. The color combinations never bothered me, though, unless they wreaked havoc with my colorblindness.)

    So all I could think of while clicking through your slideshow was “dang, DT’s wisdom, up for the whole universe on Slate now!”

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  5. Rebecca, do you have something against guys? Slide 18 of your presentation implies that guys are shite teachers, I believe this to be a case of misandry. Other than that I totally agree with the point of you presentation and have been saying and teaching the same for several years. It’s ten times worse here in Hong Kong.

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    1. wait, because I used the male pronoun? Ha! My policy is that I switch between the male and female pronoun at random in my articles. BUT, it doesn’t change the fact that yes, I am a shameless misandrist and now someone has finally been brave enough to expose it to the world.

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