Academic journal article The Technology Teacher

Presentation Software: Another Look

Academic journal article The Technology Teacher

Presentation Software: Another Look

Article excerpt

As a technology teacher, chances are that you are using a wide variety of media in your classroom or laboratory. The most common media that we see in technology labs are printed materials such as textbooks, workbooks, and references, video on tape or CD-ROM or DVD, and software applications and simulations (Figure 1). However, as we look closer, many technology teachers create their own visual materials using presentation software such as Microsoft's PowerPoint. Additionally, presentation software has become a standard learning and project development tool for student projects, assignments, and presentations.

[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]

Business and industry trainers and technology educators rely heavily on the use of visual materials for teaching and training. There are a variety of presentation technologies that professionals, such as teachers, trainers, marketing representatives, and others, can use to assist in making presentations. There have been a number of studies that have shown that audiences retain more information from presentations when they are supplemented with visual materials. Two much-quoted studies by the 3M/Wharton School (A Study of the Effects of the Use of Overhead Transparencies on Business Meetings, Wharton Applied Research Center, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, 1981) and the University of Minnesota/3M (Douglas R. Vogel, Gary W. Dickson, and John A. Lehman, Persuasion and the Role of Visual Presentation Support: The University of Minnesota/3M Study, 1986) conclude that visual aids improve communication, effectiveness, improve the audience's perceptions of the presenter, and improve speakers' confidence.

Color slides, flip charts, presentation boards, and transparencies have been standard technologies used for presenting information for a number of years. Today there are many new computer and electronic technologies that can be used for presenting text, graphics, animation, and sound. Impressive electronic presentations have been brought about by powerful laptop computers, display, and CDROM technologies. Complete presentations can be assembled using a portable computer and displayed using a variety of display technologies including LCD panels and projectors and large screen monitors. Presentations are easily stored on disks, CD-ROM, and Flash memory devices, modified and revised, and ready for new presentations with seemingly minimal effort.

Inside the Technology Lab

As we look inside a technology lab, we may see that teachers do not use presentation software solely for the purpose of providing visual support for lectures. Presentation software, such as PowerPoint, has become a "universal tool" of preference for creating a wide range of instructional materials. Teachers use PowerPoint for creating lesson guides for students prior to a lecture or demonstration, or creating review materials for tests and quizzes, tutorials for modular learning stations, and other activities. Increasingly, students are using PowerPoint or other presentation software to create visual reports and presentations as part of learning activities or projects.

As we look further into how presentation software may be used in the technology lab and classroom, we see that a primary consideration is the visual nature of the software and its capability to present highly visual information and concepts such as charts, graphs, images and photographs, and diagrams. With the current trend toward digital photography, many teachers are capitalizing on the easy transfer of digital images into presentation applications (such as images of tools, materials, and processes) where a digital image has the capability to convey conceptual as well as factual and procedural information. Several examples may include laboratory orientations, tool and machine nomenclature, machine processes, materials testing, and construction sequences. Historically, teachers typically used commercial film and video materials to highlight real-world experiences, tools, materials, and processes. …

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