slide it or write it?

Posting early, because I’ll be in the outdoors tomorrow, inclement weather or not. Count this one for Monday.

I’ve been reading slide:ology, a book about creating great presentations with PowerPoint, instead of the presentations we dread. Created by Nancy Duarte, of Duarte Design, the book has an engaging visual emphasis, and while most of the slide visuals would require a graphic designer, there is an interesting section on organizing elements to indicate the flow of information–with many, many graphic illustrations for just about any organization you can think of: process, hierarchy, flow, data, etc.

The argument is that our listeners are there to hear what we have to say, not to read it on or hear us read it from a slide. I couldn’t agree more, yet, surely there is a difference between an educational lecture and a business speech.

I think we often create PPT slides to replicate what we would write on a board, saving that writing time to discuss the content. We might even have lines of text fly in one by one to simulate how we might have written and stopped to discuss each line. I liked and still like that kind of action in the classroom, because as I’m moving around, writing, pointing to key terms, I serve as a point of reference in the presentation of material, and I think it’s easier to draw in responses from students, maybe because they are not intimidated as by a formally-prepared slide that seems to make pronouncements that students dutifully write down.

How can we recreate that kind of informal, thinking-on-the-fly dynamic of writing on the board in a PPT that is created and edited and beautified long before that moment in the classroom? I’m still looking for that kind of advice.


Categories: student-centered learning, teaching

3 replies

  1. a Smartboard will allow for that. Also, a tablet PC will allow for both prepared and informal writing. A neat project uses a Wii remote and open-source software to create a method of writing from the platform. Something much cheaper than a Smartboard is simply projecting your presentation onto a whiteboard. Then drawing on that board. Each solution has different problems associated with it.


  2. Here is the link to the open source project.


  3. Yes, I agree that the Smartboard/Sympodium/tablet is a solution of a sort that allows you to write on the projected slide. I haven’t seen it done very well yet, though. It still seems as if we mostly highlight slide info. Have you seen those UPS whiteboard ads where the guy draws as he talks? Those are pretty engaging: I guess I want more magic.


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