Posted by: Emily | November 10, 2009

In praise of powerpoint

This is going to sound silly, I know. But listen: I’ve discovered this great new instructional tool called… POWERPOINT! I made one of my first ones for a class where I knew I’d be reviewed by my Dean. Not wanting to look like I was ‘winging it,’ I thought I’d do what the Others do and whip up a ten-slide presentation, pass around handouts, and go from there. And for as much as people (including me) are down on powerpoint, I actually found it very useful in part for the way it forced me off my game and into something new.

Usually, I just start at the library homepage. That’s the screen I have projected up on the Smartboard as the students file in, and I mostly talk from that, relying on the structure of that page to guide what I talk about first, second, third, etc. When I think about it, it’s the reason I talk about the library catalog before our digital reference resources, even though I think starting a research project in Credo or Gale Virtual Reference Library makes more sense than hitting the books. With the powerpoint, I was able to organize the research steps in a way that made sense to me–and to the students–in terms of the actual research process.

Of course, I was clumsy with it, and need to learn better how to switch between slides and the website in a classroom. And I need to credit the images I’m using. (Oops.) But watching the students take notes on their handouts and getting lots of good feedback from the professor told me that I was on the right track. This means an official retirement, I think, of the resources handout I’ve been using since, oh, around 2004. So maybe I’m less in praise of powerpoint and more in praise of trying tools I haven’t used before. It’s good to shake things up, isn’t it?



  1. AWESOME. I want to explore using different technologies in my classes and have been considering using, yes, Powerpoint. I’ll admit to being kind of excited about the clip art possibilities.

  2. Kathryn Greenhill put together a short screencast showing how to use Zotero to quickly put together image credits in a PowerPoint presentation.

    • Thanks, Tara. I’m going to use this today.

  3. I’m going to be using Powerpoint tomorrow, because I want us to look at some abstracts without the clutter of rest of the database-record iconography that surrounds them. I’m feeling really excited about this class, because the prof provided the students (& me) with a very clear breakdown of key analytic approaches — a brief taxonomy of scholarly approaches to film criticism. So helpful. So we’re actually going to be able to talk about how the students can identify those approaches in others’ work, how they can use that work to help them articulate their own arguments, and have some time for searching left over. Woohoo!

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