I assigned a presentation in the class that I am teaching. The syllabus indicated that the students must prepare a 20-25 minute presentation with a handout summarizing the material. The first group presented early in the semester and prepared a great presentation including PowerPoint. I don’t use PowerPoint in my lectures/discussions and I was surprised that the group created one in addition to the assignment requirements. There are only four students out of 19 who have yet to present at this point in the semester. All of the groups that followed the first have also used PowerPoint in addition to their presentations.
My hunch is that the later groups are following the example set by the first (as I indicated publicly that they had done a good job). But I also suspect that the students are more used to PowerPoint (and technology in general) in college classrooms than I am. When I was an undergraduate technology was largely absent from the classroom. Professors didn’t use PowerPoint, students didn’t bring laptops and cellphones only made phone calls (maybe a text here and there). The majority of my undergraduate and Master’s level courses were either lecture style with professors using printed notes and occasionally writing on the blackboard or seminar discussions with reference to books, articles, etc. These materials were also “analog”.
I often wonder if the students expect me to be using PowerPoint and/or more multimedia than I do. I occasionally show short clips from Youtube and I use a lot of maps and some images but that’s typically the extend of it. I may ask them at some point if they have a preference but I’m not fully convinced how much PowerPoint adds to the classroom. I’ve always seen it as superfluous. Either it is a vehicle for a picture and/or a few quotes or it is dense with text and simply a carbon copy of teaching notes. I’m not against new technology in the classroom. It seems that it can add to the classroom experience but it doesn’t seem necessary or sufficient for effective teaching and/or learning.