I’ve definitely seen my share of pointless Powerpoint presentations, where it seemed like the presenter went crazy inserting clipart or simply pasted his or her entire presentation in verbatim (and often wondering if the presenter would insist on getting through the many remaining slides even when the class was almost over). Brown’s emphasis on the importance of training students how to use Powerpoint effectively might initially seem like a given, but thinking back, I don’t think I’ve ever had a teacher who taught me what made a good presentation. If we did receive instruction it never went beyond a quick tutorial on how it worked. Despite this lack of training, I’ve had to create Powerpoint presentations for many classes as a student.
Personally, I love using Powerpoint to enhance presentations (however, I have a tendency to spend too much time editing colours, fonts, transparency, and searching for pictures, so it would be important to also caution students against this). I think the key is using the Powerpoint for things that can’t be conveyed through voice or paper, such as including multiple literacies (pictures, video, music) and reinforcing key ideas. Scaffolding students’ effective use of Powerpoint would give them skills they could apply to any presentation. For example if studying a text or a particular topic, I could first get them to practice selecting key words from a text and to then find pictures to summarize or capture interest for each section. They could then compare their selections in groups and we could discuss which ones were more effective.