Bullets Be Gone
Yes, Powerpoint is a type of learning technology but it is not always used properly. Consider, for example, the use of bulleted lists. It might be time to remove the bulleted lists and, instead, think of PowerPoint as a tool for telling a story.
And you tell a "story" with pictures, action and mystery. Stark contrasts and telling images.
Here is an example of a large image on the screen, it is designed to introduce the topic of the gamer generation and indicate how the gamers are going to impact training departments in the following years. The image is purposefully large and takes up the entire slide to help illustrate the importance of this generation of learners.
Subsequent slides in the series include other larger than life images to help make specific points and contrast the learning styles of the gamer generation with the boomer generation.
In the next example, instead of using bullets to list the traits of the gamers. A series of "banners" were used to create an impact similar to the 1960's Batman show with the explosive words "BAM" "POW" etc. Each of the images appears seperately through animation and builds the concept of what gamers are learning from all those video games they are playing.
Notice that we have used two exciting images in the slide show already and still have not encountered any traditional bulleted lists.
The idea is to think like someone who is designing a movie or a commercial and not like someone who is taking text from a report or SOP and simply slapping it into a presentation format. Learners have been through too many presentations with too many lists of content. Avoid listing content through innovative methods.
One method is to use a different slide for each item but include a large graphic (as discussed earlier). Another method is to have the words fade into the slide in a seemingly random pattern. Another is to have some type of prompt on the slide and have the learners write the points in their learner guide instead of giving them everything already in one neat package. Force them to write something, it can be valuable during presentations and engages the audience.
Using PowerPoint or other tools can be effective if you think outside of the traditonal bulleted list format and use creative and fun techniques. Your learners will thank you.
Karl Kapp is the Assistant Director of Bloomsburg University’s Institute for Interactive Technologies and a professor of instructional technology. See his own blog, Kapp Notes for information on the convergence of learning and technology. He is the author of the book Gadgets, Games and Gizmos for Learning.
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