Monday, May 17, 2004

Thursday, January 22, 2004


PowerPoint is getting a lot of press recently, and most of it is bad. What could be so wrong with such a popular application? For starters, it may have had something to do with the crash of Shuttle last year.

A recent article in the New York Times partially blames the PowerPoint effect (condensed thought, reduced complexity, oversimplification) on the loss of the Shuttle last year by NASA. Apparently NASA managers routinely present PowerPoint summaries of the engineer's technical evaluations. The hundred pound chunk of foam got lost in a bullet point somewhere.

What does this mean for education? At first blush, the implications are not good. Yes, PowerPoint is easy, but does it serve learning? This is worth discussing. Software has to fit the uses to whih it is put.

Here is the link to the NYT article. You may need to register with the New York Times to view it.

Edward Tufte has a newly published broadside essay about PowerPoint called The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint. (See announcement).

Publisher's blurb:

"In corporate and government bureaucracies, the standard method for making a presentation is to talk about a list of points organized onto slides projected up on the wall. For many years, overhead projectors lit up transparencies, and slide projectors showed high-resolution 35mm slides. Now "slideware" computer programs for presentations are nearly everywhere. Early in the 21st century, several hundred million copies of Microsoft PowerPoint were turning out trillions of slides each year.

Alas, slideware often reduces the analytical quality of presentations. In particular, the popular PowerPoint templates (ready-made designs) usually weaken verbal and spatial reasoning, and almost always corrupt statistical analysis. What is the problem with PowerPoint? And how can we improve our presentations?"

Cover of Tufte's new book.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Welcome to ETEC 611 (Livingston).

This class blog will be the location for class notes and announcements. Shortly, registered class members will be able to interact on this blog by posting questions and comments.

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