Eleven+ ways NOT to use PowerPoint
[updated July 18, 2012]
PowerPoint is a very useful program, but many of my colleagues have become too comfortable with it. There are lots of other mechanisms for putting visual information in front of students and, if you mix it up a little, your audience will probably appreciate the variety. You may also discover that one of the alternatives is more in line with your personal style. Below are twelve alternatives to “death by PowerPoint” – some new, some old.
- Desktop software – if you just don’t like the way PowerPoint works, try a similar tool from another vendor, like Keynote (Mac) or OpenOffice Impress (open-source, cross-platform)
- Online presentations – if you’d rather work in the cloud, there are web-based services, including Google Presentations, SlideRocket, and 280 Slides.
- Low tech – a chalkboard or whiteboard can be just the thing. An experimental classroom at Notre Dame has walls painted with special material that acts as a whiteboard. To save what you write before erasing, take a digital picture.
- New(er) tech – the popular tool, Prezi, takes a different approach to the presentation paradigm. Instead of building a deck of slides, you create a canvas.
- Old tech – if you don’t have access to a computer or simply want to “go old school,” try overhead transparencies or photographic slides. Good luck finding a projector, though…
- Paper – flip charts are very popular for brainstorming. Fold the sheets over as you finish them or hang them up with wall-safe masking tape. Again, you can use a camera to archive or publish the results.
- Concept map or mind map – this technique can help introduce a new concept or organize an idea students are struggling to grasp. Learn more in Best tools and practices for concept mapping.
- Word processor – you might start with a document in outline form and include live links, images, and more. Then just project your Word file instead of a slide show.
- Image slide show – when you simply want to present a set of images, consider tools designed to organize and display photos, like Picasa, iPhoto (Mac), and Windows Live Photo Gallery.
- Wiki – try one of the user-friendly tools for creating web pages with text, links, images, and other embedded media, My favorite in this category is Wikispaces, but lots of people like Google Sites.
- List of websites – with Trackstar you can create and save a sequence of web pages. This tool is very popular with K-12 teachers.
- Collaboration – build a presentation with your students using a Google Presentation, Prezi Meeting, or a wiki.
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