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Education Expert: Schools Should Ban PowerPoint, It Makes Students Stupid

Back in the day when PowerPoint was new, it held a lot of promise for many teachers and students. No longer do teachers have to write visual aids by hand on paper options like Manila paper or create transparencies for projectors, they simply have to create presentations on their computers.

PowerPoint is easy to use and offers a lot of options, giving users many ways to make their presentations more colorful and more attractive to the viewers.

For teachers, this is certainly a great plus factor. Students seem more attentive because the PowerPoint presentations are colorful and could even have animations and sounds. With students appearing happy with this arrangement, teachers are happy, too.

But an education expert warns that as useful and attractive as PowerPoint might be from the viewpoint of educators and students alike, it can actually make students stupid! That’s a rather strong claim, but the education expert writing for The Conversation believes that universities and schools should ban PowerPoint entirely.

Easy Lectures, Stupid Students

The main purpose of a PowerPoint presentation is to create visual aids that puts the lecture into easy bullet points. The teacher is supposed to expound on these bullet points to explain more to the students, but the problem here is that the lecture becomes over simplified.

Education expert Dr. Paul Ralph of the University of Auckland pointed out three reasons why PowerPoint presentations are toxic to education:

PowerPoint discourages complex thinking

The things lecturers can put on the slides are limited. In fact, they are encouraged to be as simple as possible in presenting their lecture, leading to teachers needing to condense complex topics into much simpler forms.

Abstract figures, oversimplified tables, and bullet points help the lecturer have an easy-to-understand visual aid, but this discourages complex thinking among students. So, the students are under the illusion that they were able to easily understand what would have been a complex topic.

PowerPoint makes students more reliant on the slides

Students have this wrongful notion that the teacher had already put everything they needed to know in the bullet points and simple tables presented on the slides. With that in mind, who wants to read the text books and take down other notes, anyway?

But students are supposed to learn from complex problems and topics. While these might be a more difficult way of doing things, this is how learning should actually happen.

In short, teachers are simply spoon-feeding their students with information when they simply make PowerPoint slides, but this does not actually facilitate better learning.

PowerPoints makes students think of the course as a set of slides

As strange as it might sound, students have this notion that the course is based on their opinion of the slides, with PowerPoint presentations deemed better if they are short yet concise.

Thus, if good teachers make complex but realistic lectures, they are now the ones criticized for being ‘unclear’. And if they fail to make bullet points by choosing graphical slides with complex information, they get criticized for failing to provide ‘proper notes’!

For Dr. Ralph, PowerPoint should be banned from schools before it is too late or else, he believes that “the downward spiral of lower expectations, less hard work and less learning [in students] will continue.”

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Joy is a licensed chemist who left the lab for love! She loves to write, write write! So, she chose to become a writer rather than continue being a chemist as this job enables her to spend more time with her husband and their two kids...

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23 comments

  1. I dont agree with the above. I am a teacher and I use ppt which helps me to make my lectures interest. I have taught children in both lecture method and ppt method and analysed that ppt makes better learning. My opinion…..

    • Same here Ma’am. I also use PowerPoint in teaching and it really captures students’ attention more effectively than using a chalk or a manila paper.

  2. PowePoint or slide decks are there to help us. Again, for me, the best visual aid still are the teachers.

  3. I think the article has some reflecting points but examining also the points of the article, I can say it is not the ppt that makes the students stupid. I think it is the way we present to the students (as teachers) how we utilize the ppt and how we deal with students who think ppt are just simplifications of the lectures. Bullet points in the ppt is good as long as you only get the main points in the book and expand its understanding in the discussion. It becomes bad when you (as a teacher) let the students think and believe that ppt is dependable for studying and thus fall into a wrong notion that they don’t need to read their books because they already have the ppts.

  4. I second this findings. Many a times I got feedback from my high school graders saying that they prefer other teaching strategies other than ppt lessons.
    Ppt lessons bore them easily, no matter how professionally I prepare the slides.
    Let’s deliberate more 😊.
    Pema C

  5. I don’t agree with this. I always use ppt during my class but my pupils aren’t stupid. Ppt helps me a lot as well as my kids in many ways. I think it only depends on how we deliver the lesson to the students. It’s not the ppt which will deliver the lessons. It’ us teachers. It also depends on how we use it. Using ppt can be a tool to boost interaction and harness critical and higher order thinking skills during the class. It’s up to the teacher how he/she delivers the lesson effectively. Just saying.

  6. I agree to the fact that ppt would make students dependant and would ofcourse love to get ready made things on the platter as these would stop the brai. To think and reason out the facts.ofciurse students find it interesting but what about learning . How do we ensure that learning happens. We are actually spoon feeding . Ppt is a tool to help teachers and not to make students dull and boring. Infact teachers can use this as a tool to arouse curiosity. Instead of giving them yhings on platter. Make ppts whichbwould help them to think and learn.
    I am an educator and have been experiencing these in the daily life.

  7. It actually depends on how we use it and in what we write in the PPT. We can write someting there than can be stimulating to the mind. The PPT is only a guide. How you guide the thinking of the listeners is what truly matters.

  8. It depends, it aids but shouldn’t be passive still teacher(with all the mighty power) is the best in teaching -learning process.

  9. This could be true if the teachers use only ppt slides all throughout out the delivery of the lesson and do not use any engaging activities for meaningful learning. At some point, in fairness to PowerPoint, I would not agree that the teachers should ban PowerPoint. This is unnecessary. PowerPoint are more attractive than its old tech counterparts . PowerPoint has some media elements such as video, audio etc. that can be very useful at some times. This technology is very useful. We need this to our toolbox. We use this to extend and enhance the delivery of instruction but NOT as the SUBSTITUTE and NOT as the PANACEA for the shortcomings. Do not ban PowerPoint but do not over use it. It only takes creative thinking of the teacher on how to make learning activities meaningful and engaging . I would suggest that only things should be banned are those teachers that only rely and over used PowerPoint. Teachers are the best instructional materials and technology are their companions. With well planned lectures and class activities and with right technology and the best teachers, there will be : “no EASY LECTURES, no STUPID STUDENTS”;”COMPLEX THINKING”; “no criticism for being ‘unclear’”…

  10. With all due respect to the author of the above contents, he got some points to ponder for all of us teachers. PowerPoint should be used as a tool for learning and in order to enable that tool to work, each and every slide should and must be carefully planned. The PowerPoint should help/aid the teacher in the delivery of the lesson and not the other way around. I believe, PowerPoint is not to be blamed… But the users of such. If teachers should be guided and trained on how to use it properly I believe it will provide positive results. So schools should/may invest in training and collaborative projects to their teachers on how to improve their skills in making effective PowerPoint slides for target learners.

  11. For me , we should not ban the using of ppt but rather focus on the improvement on how to present ideas on ppt. If we are to ban ppt it doesn’t make sense if teachers still do bullets using manila paper or boards. If the main concern is the presentation of the ideas, that it became lesser and does not guide students to understand complex lessons, then we should focus on how we could present ideas well and not banning the IM used.

  12. Using PPT in the classroom may be considered a traditional approach in teaching: Teachers may tend to be the fact teller and the source of information while students may tend to be passive learners and recepient of information (Marcial, 2019).

  13. ppt is not the problem…its the person using it..,we have to remember that it is basically just a tool it is not a teaching strategy in itself..is there a comprehensive research done on this with data? i don’t think this ahould be presented with no proper research done…

  14. I think you’re an expert in giving nonsense opinion, and you’re not an education major or profession in any way. What are you trying to suggest then if we FACILITATORS OF LEARNING will not integrate ICT instruction (a requisite to the 21st century classroom setting)? You’re just saying things for your own consumption! You’re getting on my nerves.

  15. Ernani Fernandez

    that expert should read more on how technology can transform pedagogy suitable for the learners of this generation.. and that teachers should also learn that technology is just a tool in teaching and learning process… this only means that he/she is not an education expert yet.. he/she forgot to research on modern pedagogies..

  16. … She trully is a writer…
    She knows how to get someones attention. Even i who doesnt love to read, catches my reasons …

  17. that depends on how the BEST instructional material of ALL time could handle…and that’s a TEACHER who could manage the use of it…there’s always a pros and cons but a teacher has still the final motive how it is being used specially when passion of teaching is possessed..

  18. as a student, i totally agree with this article. i get bored easily as my lecturers tend to read the slides instead of actually “teaching”. and i am caught in between reading the notes and hearing the lecture. however, PPT is designed to help and therefore, i do not fully blame PPT. It should be on how the teachers deliver the knowledge and information. you can have bullet points and yet still use the chalk and marker to tell the whole story. the best visual aid is definitely the teacher and nothing else. i’m just tired of getting sleepy in class while the slides are being read

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