This past week I served as a mentor at the 2006 National CASTL Institute at Columbia College, Chicago. The focus of this year’s conference was Media Arts and New Literacies. The central feature of this conference is developing new scholars of teaching and learning and as part of that, 28 people from institutions around North America have come to present works in progress to people like me for feedback.
I’ve been working at a mentor at this conference for four years now and if I am invited back for next year, I’m going to declare a moratorium on the use of PowerPoint by the scholars presenting their works in progress. You’ve all lived it—that moment when someone tries to get their laptop to sync with the projector at the conference center where they are. Sometimes it lasts five minutes, sometimes it lasts ten, sometimes it drags on for half the allotted time. Everyone I’ve ever seen stuck up on the stage/at the podium is convinced that if they just one more button on their laptop or the projector, it will all work fine and then they can give their presentation.
And then there is the slides themselves. How many slides have you seen with large blocs of text that the audience starts to read and then the presenter reads to them? This is effective pedagogy? Maybe they should take a hint from Abraham Lincoln.
The irony of this, of course, is that my complaint arises at a conference filled with 125 people who care passionately about teaching and learning. Why then do so many scholars who are great teachers feel compelled to rely on the crutch of slideware?
I’ve had enough and I’m not going to take it any more. From now on I’m going to force presenters to talk without slides. Imagine how much more interesting it will be.