Our Educational Message

Hi, and welcome to our blog. This space is designed to share ideas and methodologies that we use to teach Turkish teenagers. In particular, there is a strong focus on ICT-ELT, which means if you like visual and technological support for your style of teaching, this blog is for you. My colleague, Brentson Ramsey, has been working alongside me for three years. He is also a big proponent of the ICT-ELT Paradigm, which means he will also be posting from his own teaching perspective on the blog.

2010 was the beginning of this new journey, and although there is no definitive ICT-ELT road map available for everyone to follow, it is exciting to explore the technological means to make teaching more fun and affective for students. Our main message is for teachers to ADOPT & ADAPT the paradigm shift for their own needs, and remember that

Saturday, 20 October 2012


"Death by Powerpoint" is a phrase that everyone who has  a career in teaching is only too aware of.  The amount of erroneous, unnecessary and downright horrific meetings and conference plenaries and keynotes we are all expected to sit and "enjoy" boggle the mind.  They visit schools and head-up conferences then roll out the Microsoft text-laden and corporate-based presentation slideshows to extremely bored, disengaged and utterly fed up audiences all over our teacher-world. 
So, when I started to present regularly at conferences I wanted to make sure that my own presentations followed some basic principles to avoid the ppp-grim-reaper: dynamic images, and little or no text that followed the concept that less is better on the screen.  I came across www.prezi.com, which had some impact on me, but that also got complaints from audiences because it was too motion-friendly and very distracting.  As a presenter, I personally felt that prezi was also just a pain in the neck due to very time consuming presentation prep.  Then the brilliance of Microsoft's office suite came alive, and turned it all around for me with Office 2010.  The updated version far outweighs its predecessors, and hopefully 2013 can take it even further for innovative tools, add-ons and great outcomes.  However, I am writing this in response to general presentation pitfalls we all should try to resolve.  It could act as a starting point for teachers, students and unfortunately, presenters as well. 

There is no excuse for bad presentations anymore, and below I offer some suggestions of how we as teachers can start to eliminate bad ppp practices if we follow some fundamental steps, and educate ourselves first, then our students, so future generations of audiences can enjoy going to conferences, meetings, lessons and allow us all to watch decent presentations.

  •  Don't assume your students even know how to make a powerpoint.
Far too many teachers are unsure themselves about how to use the technical aspect of the tool.  Therefore, they hope that when the students get up in front of them that everything will be fine.  We must go through several scaffolded steps to highlight what is bad, and what is good for the audience.

  • Show the students what it is that makes a bad powerpoint.
Students tend to take everything they have brainstormed, researched or written down in class, and simply cut n paste it on to the slides.  We need to teach them about paraphrasing, summarizing, important points and the message they want to relay.
  •   Do not read at length from the slides.
This  has to be the most annoying, irritating and practice-for-boredom aspect of all bad presentations.  Since when did people actually think we like being read to as adults or teens for that matter?  Since when was it possible to read faster to someone than to let them read by themselves? If you do need to read slides and slides of bullet points and extensive prose, you really are unsure of what it is you are saying. Print off and distribute to the audience so they can read later.  If they don't, it means the information wasn't important to them in any case, and you could have saved yourself the trouble!

  • Make what you are saying extremely visual and legible
The correct size of an image, or the best font for the subject matter is also really important.  So many times I have seen students put text on top of a busy image, thus making it impossible to read.  That is very frustrating for the audience.  The full use of the slide is also important, so move the image up, down or to either side, and place the text there.  It is also very affective to leave parts of the slide blank.  Have you ever watched an Apple presentation or video?

  • Direct them to Google images.  
So much of what is being presented can be shown in a picture.  The need for text outside facts, figures and highlighted information can be told better with an image.  This then acts for a springboard to more verbal exposition.  ESL teachers can promote this as beneficial for practice in L2 to their students.
  • Recommend the use of video embedded in the slides. 
Now with YouTube pumping an insane amount of videos for everyone to use, it seems daft not to use them.  For impact, a hook, and general respite from yammering, video certainly fits the bill.
  • Students practise and prepare well before hand.
The need for better preparation is the bane of all students, and it is something we must focus on as teachers.  Otherwise, the 3 minutes deteriorates into a babbling and confused stuttery mess.  Not to mention, the learning outcomes are seriously undermined for the self-confidence of the students and future presentations.

These SEVEN fundamentals for scaffolding in the classroom can lead to better and more enjoyable presentations for everyone.  There are hundreds of lists showing the DOs and DON'Ts of presentations.  This list is no different in its message: Make your audience interested and engaged.

I would like to end this short blog post with one of the funniest videos ever, of a very bad presentation.  The presenter does everything wrong, that a presenter could do,  And this is without a powerpoint.  Perhaps, if he were to have used one, he would have had a better time of it...

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