May 1997 // Featured Products
PowerPoint as a Technology Enhancement to Traditional Classroom Activities
by James Garner Ptaszynski
Note: This article was originally published in The Technology Source ( as: James Garner Ptaszynski "PowerPoint as a Technology Enhancement to Traditional Classroom Activities" The Technology Source, May 1997. Available online at The article is reprinted here with permission of the publisher.

I love Microsoft?Ç¬Æ PowerPoint?ǬÆ. As applications go, it is my favorite second only to Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft's rich messaging and collaboration software (but that's another story). I fell in love with PowerPoint when I was a faculty member and associate dean at Wake Forest University's graduate school of management. I primarily taught by the case study method but frequently put charts, diagrams and definitions on the chalkboard. I found two minor problems with my "board work." First, my handwriting was atrocious and students would frequently ask me to decipher a particular hieroglyphic I had written on the board. "Dr. Jim, (they couldn't be expected to pronounce my last name), what do you mean by Don't eat the seafood with pencils?" My handwriting style had solidified several decades ago and, this side of going back to Ms. Grenvalski's second grade class, it was unlikely to change.

The second problem was that fact that most of my students were very high achievers. They tended to write down everything I put on the board (OK, less so as the semester proceeded). Heads down and pencils moving did not contribute to a robust case discussion, which depends upon the interaction between students as well as between students and the faculty member.

One of my solutions to both problems was PowerPoint. I started preparing all my board work (except obviously the spontaneous material) ahead of time on PowerPoint. This changed my classroom teaching style (for the better) in several ways. First, I tended to be more organized. Having to put all my board work on PowerPoint before class required me to finely tune the content of my class. Just like practicing a speech out loud helps you find errors your normally would not find through "silent practice," putting everything down on PowerPoint made me pay closer attention to the value of each of my visuals, its sequencing and my cadence.

Second, not having to write a complex visual (e.g., a positioning map) on the board saved class time. Some might say that this would prevent student contributions to the building of the visual but this was not the case. I often put elements of the visual in places they should not be and asked students to comment on them (e.g., putting Hyatt Hotels in the low-cost/low-service quadrant of a positioning map). We could easily change the slide as the discussion progressed.

The third element that it changed was student attention. Knowing that the PowerPoint slides would be available for later viewing or download from our network, the students could concentrate on the discussion rather than on being scribes. This engendered a much more lively discussion.

There are several terms that are starting to become a regular part of my thinking and my vocabulary when I talk about using technology in higher education. One of them is technology that enhances or, "technology enhanced" education. To me, enhanced means to improve the quality of something you are already doing. In my example above, I already provided visuals in my class through traditional board work. The addition of PowerPoint did not necessarily change the content of my visuals but it greatly enhanced their impact.

shooter gamesbrain teaser gamesmatch 3 gameshidden object gamesbrick busterpuzzle gamesmarble popper gamescard gamesmanagement games
View Related Articles >