As a former history teacher, I can say that I LOVED being able to put primary source images up on the screen for the students to view and interpret. Rereading my original post, I really focused on the negative, but I truly believe PowerPoint can be a powerful took if used effectively.
Often I would put up a photograph and have students discuss a few guided questions in pairs or small groups. In this way, they were not just getting direct instruction.
I thinkthat as mentioned earlier, Powerpoint can be used to summarise points and effectively allows other media to be embedded to emphasise points. I frequently use music, video clips and graphics and I make sure that I am also teaching presentation skills as I go. My younger classes learn the use of background colour to enhance readability, how over-se of moving graphics can be distracting, etc.
Powerpoint is really just one more tool in our box. We need to choose the right tool for each teaching job, and not get too fixed on using just one.
Outside of PowerPoint typically not being used correctly, I have to say that my largest problem with technologies like PowerPoint is when they fail to work. I have to agree that the program allows very simplistic presentations (which sometimes are all some students are able to complete) and the ability for other students to create very involved presentations. For students, some find their own lack of ability embarrassing when their presentations are overshadowed.
I found PowerPoint a helpful tool for showing my students how to organize information and to identify relationships between pieces of data.
My school district taught all students how to create their own PowerPoint presentations during the elementary years, and the possibilities of that technology were revisited and expanded throughout succeeding years. Students can make very superficial presentations that are nothing more than regurgitation of information they have found and will promptly forget. I have also had students who spent a lot of time and effort and thought assembling presentations that combined effects and information and higher-level organizational skills and thoughts to produce superior representations of high quality learning.
As with most tools, it's all in when, how, and why it's used.
There is a reason there is a section below each slide to make notes, something most PowerPoint presenters disregard, including teachers. I teach OfficeSuite, and my students are required to do presentations that include an expansion of what is on each slide, with questions and discussion points to engage their audience.
PowerPoint's can be a great tool if used correctly. They are a great way to introduce a new topic. Teachers can even include video clips or pictures to help illustrate the new topic. It is often helpful to give students an assignment with the PowerPoint. This might be something like taking notes. For my lower level students, I gave them a print out of the slides in note format with blank spaces at strategic locations. They had to pay attention and fill in the blanks. If students aren't given something to do other than stare at the screen, many students will tune out and miss the information.
PowerPoint's can also be a great thing to post on the web and ask students to view at home as part of a homework assignment. Students can also present information to each other using PowerPoint presentations. This type of assignment works well very to give students presentations some added structure. There are many great ways to effectively use a PowerPoint.
The big issue is that people don't use PowerPoint as it was intended. It is best used to make a POINT, as its name implies. Too many PowerPoint users try to pack their entire lecture onto the slides, instead of using the software to add illustrations and extensions to their presentation.
Teachers can productively use PowerPoint to share pictures and graphics, or to put up an outline to assist students in taking notes. Like any other tool, it should not be used constantly.
I agree that powerpoint is often used almost solely as a form a didactic, teacher-centered education, usually as a lecture aid. Even in this context, it can lead to bad student note-taking habits, as students copy down whatever is on powerpoint without listening to lectures. But powerpoint can be invaluable in any classes, as many students are visual learners. I have found it very useful in using art and photographs in the classroom.
Times change. Ten years ago I was seen as a technological visionary at my rural school for using power point. Today, in a major urban school district power point is seen as lazy teaching if done constantly. I still think power point is ok to use from time to time, but the major downside is that when most teachers use power point it is direct instruction without student participation. The move in education is to get students more involved and not just passively taking in information, which is what happens during a typical power point presentation.
I think that nowadays using PowerPoint is a very common way to teach. Perhaps it is used too much though. When I was in grade school, no teacher used PowerPoint, SmartBoards, or the like. It wasn't until high school really that PowerPoint became very popular and used in a common classroom. I think that the biggest con is that it is so common that it doesn't really seem like teaching anymore because a lot of teachers just put up the PowerPoint and read the slides.
Hope this helps!
As a student, I like when my teachers use PowerPoint. In tenth grade my social studies teacher used them every day. What was in the PowerPoint was the 'skeleton' of that day's lesson and every student was expected to copy what was on the slide into their notes. Which, made it easier for me, because it meant that if I was absent I could ask anyone in my class what the notes were, because we all had the same notes (more or less). It also meant that I wouldn't have to hurry up and write as fast as possible because my teacher would wait for a while before he changed the slide. It also meant that even if I wasn't paying attention I could still get the notes. But my teacher still recommended that we pay attention to the lecture though, because he would mention stuff that wasn't on the PowerPoint or in the book, but would be on the test. So I found PowerPoint very helpful to me.