November 11, 2004

Physics Teaching and Technology

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at November 11, 2004 2:44 PM

Chad Orzel discusses the pitfalls and advantages of using PowerPoint for physics lectures, a subject I touched on back in April. He makes a good point here:

But the specific problems that they cite aren't really problems inherent in PowerPoint. The complete-sentences-on-slides thing is something that I've seen done with overhead transparencies as well, and in one memorable instance, with Microsoft Word. You don't see it with chalk, because it takes too long to write out complete sentences on a chalkboard, but I've certainly sat in classes that were the spiritual ancestor of the "just read the slides" school of lecturing, where the professor pretty much read his or her notes without much deviation.

In fact, I tend to think that the focus on technology is obscuring the fact that "PowerPoint abuse" is just a special case of a larger problem: bad lecturing. Or, to turn it around a bit, I would say that "Chalkboard Abuse" is (or at least was) just as rampant as its more technological cousin.

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Comments

Amen!

For seminars, I have seen the gamut of quality with essentially all technology. Some types of talks fit better with certain things than others (if I'm going to go through a derivation in detail, then I'd go all the way to the white/black board and eschew technology but most of my talks are Powerpoint), but I definitely agree that this is the same problem that's always been around.

Posted by: Mason | November 11, 2004 6:08 PM

I make a lot of business presentations using PowerPoint but almost always have a voice-over that goes beyond the actual slide in front of the audience. I figure if they'll listen to me as well as read the slide I'm delivering much more content than just what the deck contains.

Posted by: Dad | November 12, 2004 10:47 AM
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