Interactive PowerPoint Presentations

Migrated Account
0 0 2,112

Keeping students actively engaged during class has been shown over and over again to increase student learning (  Active learning studies have often focused on the activities students do while in the classroom but not on the methodology used to deliver content. Often PowerPoint slides play an integral role in how information is transferred between the instructor and students, but because PowerPoint slides are often pre-programmed, they seem very impersonal, inflexible and rigid.

If someone were to ask me what is the biggest difference between a traditional and flipped classroom, I would say flexibility. In the traditional class, we feel pressured to get through the material, before the session is complete and stress levels rise, on both sides of the podium, when time becomes short. In classes where instructors use PowerPoint, the right arrow key becomes the driving force for the in-class experience.

Solutions to problems, if present, are already typed into the slides. Animations, sounds, and other effects may help the slide show seem more interactive, but slideshows still tend to feel rigid.

One way to get around the seeming rigidity of PowerPoint slides, is to use a drawing tablet, to annotate the slides via the PowerPoint pointer, pen, and highlighter tools located on the lower left hand corner of the slide (after starting the slideshow).

In this way, the PowerPoint slides can be treated as an extension of the classroom whiteboard. Not all of the facts need to be typed into the slides. Bulleted lists, problem solutions, concept explanations, etc. can all be added onto the slides, in yourhandwriting, while running the slideshow. After the class, the annotations can be kept (and saved) or discarded. If kept, all annotations on one slide become a single image – which can then be easily deleted later if necessary. 

Not only do in-class annotions allow instructors to modify explanations, but it turns the rigid, often dry PowerPoint slides into something that is both flexible, personal, and interactive.  For information on other in-class annotation tools, see a post Kevin Revell wrote on Tools for In-Class Annotation.

About the Author
Brandon Tenn earned his Bachelor's of Science degree in Math and Chemistry from the University of Hawai`i at Manoa in 2001 and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from UC Davis in 2009. Between 2006 and 2010 he taught at both Sierra College and the California Maritime Academy. Since 2011 he has taught math and chemistry at Merced College. He is very interested in teaching developmental and introductory science and math courses utilizing an active learning approach. He has flipped every math and chemistry course he taught since Spring 2015 and continues to research best practices for the technique based on his target student populations.