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Do you like college classes with computer slides?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
I'm curious about people's feelings about taking college classes where the instructor uses computer slides, like with powerpoint or keynote. Do they make the class boring, organized, better, worse, does it matter? Why?
post #2 of 20
While definitely not necessary for good speakers, well-designed and structured computer slides can greatly enhance a lecture in my experience, both as a listener and as a speaker/teacher.

Adding visual cues can be a great help for the listeners in remembering the content. A name sticks better when you have seen a funny/impressive picture of that person. A trend sticks better if you have seen a compelling graph of that trend. An interesting/funny/disturbing behavior sticks better after having seen a movie example of it.

The big caveat is that to be "good", a lecture with slides needs the same (maybe an EVEN MORE!) thorough preparation than a lecture without slides and very often people tend to throw some "impressive" slides together without bothering to give enough attention to structure and the main thoughts the lecture is meant to convey in the first place.
post #3 of 20
i've been wondering what would happen if teachers used the socratic method in high school and college (and penalized students for routinely not being prepared enough to answer questions at the level the socratic method requires).
post #4 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dutch pear View Post

Adding visual cues can be a great help for the listeners in remembering the content. A name sticks better when you have seen a funny/impressive picture of that person. A trend sticks better if you have seen a compelling graph of that trend. An interesting/funny/disturbing behavior sticks better after having seen a movie example of it.

I agree, but obviously you don't need to use a computer for those things.
post #5 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ShawnJ View Post

i've been wondering what would happen if teachers used the socratic method in high school and college (and penalized students for routinely not being prepared enough to answer questions at the level the socratic method requires).

Do your law school classes use computer slides?
post #6 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by BRussell View Post

Do your law school classes use computer slides?

Not at me but I'll answer.

I have one law-school class (contracts) that does. I was surprised that I've found it useful. Mostly because while the slides are there, it's a supplement to the socratic method rather than the main thing.

Almost all of my classes used powerpoints as the main method of lecture when I was getting my MPH and I HATED it. It was one my biggest complaints about that education experience. I yearned for blackboards, overheads, and regular taking of notes. In that arena.

Unless the slides are playing a purely supplementary roll, I think it's just a symptom of laziness on the part of the professor (my oldest sister is a professor and agrees with me).
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post #7 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by BRussell View Post

Do your law school classes use computer slides?

No. We get on average about 30 pages of cases (3-7 cases) per class. We're expected to know pretty much every detail of every case for that class and to be able to put those cases into context ourselves. So, to me, computer slides seem like hand-holding for the unprepared students. They would, probably, clarify things if used right in the college setting.
post #8 of 20
If the answer is yes to the following, then yes:

Do you need animations?

Do you need high resolution images?

Do you need to interact with those images?


If the answer is yes to the following, then no.

Do you have slides composed only of words?

Do the slides act as a crutch?

Do you read the slides?

etc etc.

Basically use the computer for what it is good for, displaying high resolution images and performing animations. For all else talk or be at the board.
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post #9 of 20
I spent the last three years being eviscerated in course evaluations for not providing slides on a projector and electronic copies to my programming students. Talk about the wrong classes for slides altogether! Many also complain that class participation grades are unfair because it is subjective. Hard to go Socratic without using participation. Impossible to get students to interact meaningfully if there is a slide full of words in front of them

I agree slides can suck, but it gets real hard to ignore the "know-it-alls" for years running. Damned if I do. Dammed if I don't.
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post #10 of 20
The college lecture itself is almost always a useless exercise. It's by nature not an interactive environment, and, even when questions are raised, a lecture never becomes a forum. Slides don't generally make them worse than they already are.

Lectures are outdated: there's no reason not to replace them with video or audio segments, distributed as seen fit.
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post #11 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Splinemodel View Post

The college lecture itself is almost always a useless exercise. It's by nature not an interactive environment, and, even when questions are raised, a lecture never becomes a forum. Slides don't generally make them worse than they already are.

Lectures are outdated: there's no reason not to replace them with video or audio segments, distributed as seen fit.

I don't know. I had lots of great lectures with plenty of in-class interaction as an undergrad. It all depends on how good/motivated the professor is. Then again, the largest class I had as an undergrad was 70 people, and that certainly makes for a different environment than big lecture halls.
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post #12 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hiro View Post

Many also complain that class participation grades are unfair because it is subjective.

Maybe.

In law school, we get minused on our final class grade if the professors find us consistently unprepared. That means, upon being cold-called, not reading the assigned cases (gasp), or, having read the case, not having a great enough command of the facts of the case to tell what happened (gasp), or not being able to respond effectively to a professor's hypotheticals (ok, this one is hard), or, finally, going up to the ABA limit on classes missed (about 6- any classes misses after that and you cannot sit for the exam). On the other hand, we get plussed on the final class grade through more of a subjective determination based on the quality and quantity of class contributions.
post #13 of 20
Funny/true/sad story. My European history teacher uses powerpoints. Powerpoints he found on the internet that other people did (and even though he says he modifies them to be interlaced with his lectures, we all know that he doesn't). He doesn't even know what's on them. So if there's art that's really creepy or has nudity in it, he'll be flipping through the slides: "As you can see, [Some random art dude] painted women he idolized." *flips slide and turns to see what's on it* "Oh, my" and then he flips through about the next 5 really quickly to get away from that slide and then he loses his place in the lecture. So the other day, to test how much he actually knows about his slides, we (a friend and I) got on his computer while he was out of the room (it's a complicated thing, but he trusts/likes us enough not to be angry about it) and modified a few of his slides by placing random words in them like "loopy bloopy" and "I like pie" etc. The next day, my friend from the class right after mine told me of how he was going through the slides and actually read off the nonsense phrases before he realized what was going on. Our punishment? "You guys are tricksters" is all he said to us.

I believe that is a good example of professor laziness/unawareness.
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post #14 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flounder View Post

Unless the slides are playing a purely supplementary roll, I think it's just a symptom of laziness on the part of the professor (my oldest sister is a professor and agrees with me).

I'm not so certain about laziness. It may depend a lot on the subject, but I decided to give my lectures using powerpoint last summer (examples were worked on the over-head), and I can tell you that I spent twice as much time preparing them than I normally do preparing lectures. Luckily I was only teaching the one course (Linear Algebra), but once you've started with the slides, you can't withdraw them from your students half-way through the semester or they will think that you're lazy. I certainly won't be using powerpoint again (well, I'll use it for Linear Algebra next time -- the slides are prepared now!): far too much work for too little pay-off.
post #15 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by BRussell View Post

I'm curious about people's feelings about taking college classes where the instructor uses computer slides, like with powerpoint or keynote. Do they make the class boring, organized, better, worse, does it matter? Why?

I liked having the slides as a student, but was always bored that I didn't have anything to do during class. To be honest, I never really learned much in class, so I'm not sure that it mattered. I felt that all the real work was done by digging into the text and completing exercises. But I never missed class: too paranoid that I might miss something important.
post #16 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by BRussell View Post

I'm curious about people's feelings about taking college classes where the instructor uses computer slides, like with powerpoint or keynote. Do they make the class boring, organized, better, worse, does it matter? Why?

If they are used in some form to enhance the lecture then they are worth it. In fact Steve Jobs is actually a pretty effective example of how to use them. He uses them to make numbers relevant. He shows video clips that he cannot convey merely by speaking. The slides often shows organizational forms for information he is referencing.

The hard, fast rule should be this. If you read all of any slide to the class, it should be grounds for a plug right between the eyes.

"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

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post #17 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by BRussell View Post

I'm curious about people's feelings about taking college classes where the instructor uses computer slides, like with powerpoint or keynote. Do they make the class boring, organized, better, worse, does it matter? Why?

I hate to say this, as I share a floor with your discipline, but I walk down the hallways and almost always see a bunch of students staring at a big screen or watching a movie or sleeping and the professor up there trying to command attention—WHEN THERE'S A GIANT SCREEN BEHIND HIM. Nerdy prof vs GIANT TV SCREEN? Are you kidding? Even if the screen said "Do not look at this screen," that's all they'd look at.

Now, sometimes they do clever things, like put complex diagrams [of the part of the body you study] up and they talk about it. That seems neat.

But I keep wondering why. I agree with Nick. If the slides contain words not coming out of the professor's mouth, then yes. Good. If the professor is just reading them? No. Bad. ex-ter-mi-nate.

When I teach, I use a mixture of lecture, Socratic method, and full on Paolo Freire pinko-commie "what do y'all want to talk about" kind of stuff. I give maybe one Powerpoint presentation a year, and that's only because I need to show how some citation methods are formatted.
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post #18 of 20
Thread Starter 
I can understand all of the answers against using them here, and I've made them myself, but I want to think about this a bit, so let me give some reasons in favor of using them that you all can trash. Let's even exclude the obvious like using computer graphics.

1. Words are going to be written on the board (or regular transparency projector for a larger class) at some point anyway. How to spell a name, or just to cue that this is a new or important topic. I don't know any prof who doesn't write down some words for the class. So why does it matter whether they're on a computer projector or just written by hand?

2. With slides, there's an objective record. This is good for two reasons: a) so that if you miss class you can see what happened, and b) so there's no debate about what was covered in class, which can happen around test time.

3. Having spent time at a German University has led me to see things a bit differently. In the US, there's more of a culture of needing to go to class, so there's less emphasis on getting information to students outside of class. I can understand the idea, but in Europe there's more emphasis on students getting the course ideas anyway they can, even if it means working outside of class. If that's your perspective, putting an organized set of information like lecture slides in the hands of students is seen as more desirable than, in effect, making them come to class to get the goods.

4. I think it also depends on what type of class it is. If it's about discussing ideas that come from the students in class, as a way of developing critical thinking skills, debating, and communicating, you wouldn't need lecture slides. If you're conveying new information, that's a different story. In my view of a good class, some new information should be conveyed (the slides), and then the class might use and discuss and ask questions about that information (slides are ignored for the moment).

[edit: oh yeah, and the idea that the teacher doesn't know what they're going to say before they look at the slides, or just read slides to the class, is ridiculous of course. But anyone who's going to do that is also just going to read from notes or read from a book, i.e., they're a bad teacher and whatever method they use is going to be bad.]
post #19 of 20
I do not teach in college, but middle school, and slides can be quite valuable (or highly distracting). It is all about strategic use and being aware of your teaching.

For instance, I have a "Grammar on Repeat" powerpoint that I will put on throughout the year. It has about 150 slides (built up over time), featuring a sentence with a bolded section and a label for whatever grammar element is being demonstrated. Usually, these accompany fun pictures. (A good deal of my students can identify a participial phrase because of the Bush-hugging-McCain picture.)

At times when students are completing work that doesn't require them to be paying attention to me, I will put it on. Students who are done with an assignment and are in "idle mode" (as I call it), will start looking at the slides just to see what will be next (they transition randomly every 15 seconds).

However, if I put this on during a mini-lecture then I will lose half the class as they stare at the screen.

So yes, PowerPoint can be a crutch, but if you use it well then it's a great tool.
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post #20 of 20
any class is better with technology =]
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