Friday, November 27, 2009

Socially unacceptable

ESTICT At the ESTICT event yesterday, Steve Draper threw out some challenging comments, as expected. For me, the most interesting was not about electronic voting systems (EVS), but about PowerPoint. Steve made the point that primary and secondary education have not sold their souls to PowerPoint as HE has done. One of the main reasons I'm not terribly interested in EVS is because most of the systems I have used are so tightly integrated with PowerPoint that inevitably they fall down because of the limitations of PowerPoint.

After I'd given up on the angry fruit salad car-crash demonstration of WordWall*, this set me thinking about not using PowerPoint any more. My classroom sessions are no longer lectures, more discussion based, and for that reason PowerPoint sucks even more than it does in a didactic lecture setting. Steve's passing remark inspired me to think about putting up a wordcloud and talking around the concepts instead. Sadly, I don't feel currently that I can take the risk of binning PowerPoint. Part of the reason for this is because it assumes that students would prepare in advance for each session, rather than just turning up and passively consuming a set PowerPoint slides. This isn't going to happen because these students have not been trained to do this. I wonder which university will be the first to ban PowerPoint? Perhaps neither likely nor desirable (what would be the second thing they'd ban?). All we can hope then is that PowerPoint in higher education becomes as socially unacceptable as smoking (I quite like the idea of small knots staff standing outside in the rain sucking down bullet points), eating in laboratories, or f*cking having intimate carnal knowledge of the freshers.

*WordWall looks like an interesting product, but the demonstration yesterday was poor, and there are huge accessibility problems I couldn't see any way to solve, so for that reason, I would never consider using it.