PowerPoint and visual learners — Federal Computer Week

Even though this is talking about the world of academia, It’s something to keep in mind in the business world. Visual presentations, animations (but not random or ridiculous), fewer words on the screen. That’s the mantra.

In some executive education courses I just finished teaching, I made probably the biggest change I have made in my teaching approach for 20 years. In a case-based class, very heavily dependent on class discussion rather than pre-programmed lecture material, I have introduced Microsoft PowerPoint. I don’t mean PowerPoint 1.0 with bullet lists in text, but the kind of PowerPoint that younger faculty members are now using all the time: PowerPoint that is filled with photos, images, font of varying size and colors, and so-called “animation” where text and visuals appear sequentially rather than all at once, or zoom in and out on the slide.

Since this is still a discussion-based class, the presentations don’t dominate the class like they would in a lecture, but the way I have done it, they are definitely part of the class.

The fact that I finally concluded that I needed to do this reflects, I think, an important change in the way young people growing up now are learning and interacting with the world, which doubtless has significance beyond academia.

It appears that students’ constant exposure to lots of visual stimulation, from video games to more visually intense ads and movies (made possible by digital special effects) to the gradual substitution of texting for talking, is turning the generation growing up into people who interact with the world more visually – including especially reacting to pictures, and to images that change rather than staying static. My impression is that, more and more, professors need to accompany their spoken words with words on a PowerPoint and preferably by pictures as well, or students don’t register them.

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PowerPoint and visual learners — Federal Computer Week.

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