Hope Greenberg wrote:

> I enjoy David Moats' commentaries: he usually manages to make very
> astute observations from which he draws completely wrong conclusions. In
> this case he is absolutely right: PowerPoint is a deadly tool when used
> poorly (and I have so rarely seen it used well that it seems safer not
> to use it at all, but that's just my prejudice).

But that is not what I heard him say.  He flatly says that using PowerPoint
is not education.  Of course, he completely ignores that flipcharts,
overhead projectors and chalkboards have been used for similar purposes for
ages.  His rant comes off as little more than HIS personal prejudice against
the FORM of the technology (and teaching), not how well it's used.

Having seen more than my share of presentations over 20 years of private
sector employment prior to joining UVM, I can attest that they can vary all
over the spectrum.  Usually, it's the quality of the speaker that counts,
not what their tools are.  On the other hand, a well designed PowerPoint
presentation can make for clearer focus and better communication of ideas
(and less wasted time).  In general, they should be used as visual outlines
for discussion, not as replacements for discussion.  He could have easily
made this distinction if he had chosen to.

> To conclude, however, that students are getting dumber because
> PowerPoint is being used is just funny. I like his two instances where
> he expresses his favorite learning methods: doing research in the
> library ("Instead I had to go to the library to look up unfamiliar terms
> and to figure out what he was saying. It's called education.") and
> enjoying a performance ("Some of my most memorable lectures years ago
> came from an Indian professor of political philosophy who for an hour on
> end would allow his mind to unfurl a long complex web of thinking...").
> It's good that he recognizes his strongest learning styles and could
> find ways to accommodate them.

My Abnormal Psychology class seemed to be the most popular lecture on campus
back in the day....Dave Celani was big draw....I'm guessing many in
attendance were NOT in the class :)

> Of course, we should acknowledge that some people actually can learn by
> being read to. In fact, one of the major factors in the growth of
> medieval universities was the idea that people who wanted to learn were
> willing to travel to the place where the guy who owned the book would
> read it--it was called a lecture. It proved influential enough that for
> hundreds of years people who have adapted well to that teaching style
> have been considered educated while those who have not have simply not
> made it through the system.

Indeed, this was his biggest failure.  Is it narrow-mindededness or
ignorance that leads him to think that his way is the only way to learn?
Perhaps this is a concept totally foreign to him or maybe he hasn't had
children who have bumped up against prejudices in educational styles.  Many
people are helped by "seeing" the words in order to properly hear them and
remember them (not to mention the many other teaching/learning methods).
This is not the simple cut and dried issue he makes it out to be.

> Moats' complaining about a person doing a one-to-one reading of a
> PowerPoint slide show to someone else simply points out that choosing
> the wrong approach is a matter of bad teaching not bad technology. Or,
> as has often been said, using technology to support bad teaching simply
> results in bad teaching.

Exactly.  But as I said above, his rant did not make that distinction.

> His comments point out something else: he is demanding that his
> educational needs be accommodated. And in that he is both displaying a
> very 20th century western notion of the importance of the individual and
> supporting, perhaps unbeknownst to himself, the notion that technology
> can be a powerful tool in tailoring the learning experience to the
> individual.

Wishful thinking.  OTHO, maybe he will get enough feedback from this to help
bring him around.  Into the 21st century.


(I heard his piece on VPR and couldn't believe what I was hearing...thanks
for letting me vent :)