Putting PowerPoint in Its Place

Written by: Rebecca M. Giles, Leah H. Kinniburgh

Few, if any, technological tools generate stronger personal reactions among educators than PowerPoint, possibly because of its rampant popularity. According to information design expert Edward Tufte in his book The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint, “PowerPoint itself has transcended mere software status to become a cultural icon of contemporary communication.” (p. 3) Various accusations have been leveled against PowerPoint, including that it causes presenters to mutilate data or avoid interaction with the audience. One source even claimed that PowerPoint contributed to the crash of the space shuttle Columbia. As a teaching tool, however, PowerPoint is simply as effective as the individual using it. If the slides are bad and the presentation poor, that’s not PowerPoint’s fault.

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