Why do supposedly responsible individuals continue to create PowerPoint presentations and then ascribe the word “learning” to their creations? Why do E-Learning courseware vendors continue to produce and sell adapted PowerPoint presentations? Why do vendors of LMS’s continue to tout the capability of their associated authoring systems to convert PowerPoint presentations into an E-Learning environment?

One of two reasons — of which “ignorance” is the more easily forgiven.

PowerPoint is slick, attractive and easy to both learn and manipulate. For many well-meaning individuals, it appeals to one’s creative instincts. It can be rewarding to make. Unfortunately, the excitement of building a PowerPoint presentation can, also, blind one to the ultimate aim of all learning:

Learning is not merely memorization of information. Learning is the mental response to informational stimulation, which turns into reflection and new awareness. Meaningful learning initiates action and change, which results in heightened values and skills.

The other, more unfortunate reason, is a combination of ignorance and greed. Vendors of E-Learning who pass off adapted PowerPoint presentations as valid are both ignorant and only interested in making money. They feel no ethical commitment to the students and trainees, forced to cope with such abominations. Vendors of an LMS that tout the capability of its associated authoring system to convert PowerPoint presentations into E-Learning are almost as bad since they, in their avarice, are guilty of promulgating junk throughout their client base.

And, while I’m on the subject, we should also sharply criticize the faculty in many Graduate Schools of Instructional Design who actually include lectures on adapted PowerPoint presentations as legitimate E-Learning choices.

A couple of years ago, a “New York Times” article by Elisabeth Bumiller, “WE HAVE MET THE ENEMY AND HE IS POWERPOINT!” https://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/27/world/27powerpoint.html focused on the opinions of many of our military leaders:

“PowerPoint makes us stupid,” General James N. Mattis of the Marine Corps, the Joint Forces commander, . . .

“It’s dangerous because it can create the illusion of understanding and the illusion of control,” General McMaster (Brig. Gen. H. R. McMaster) said . . .

Commanders say that behind all the PowerPoint jokes are serious concerns that the program stifles discussion, critical thinking and thoughtful decision-making.

“ . . . death by PowerPoint,” the phrase used to describe the numbing sensation that accompanies a 30-slide briefing, seems here to stay.

. . . PowerPoint presentations, Dr. Hammes (Thomas X. Hammes, a retired Marine colonel) said, are known as “hypnotizing chickens.”

While I cannot speak for the military, I can certainly echo their criticism of PowerPoint when it comes to education, training and, above all, to — LEARNING!

Like a deadly virus, adapted PowerPoint presentations continue to surface, disguised as E-Learning — and, consequently damaging the reputation of our most potentially powerful learning tool.

More on Thursday – – –

— Bill Walton, Founder, ITC Learning
www.itclearning.com/blog/ (Tuesdays & Thursdays)
e-Mail: bwalton@itclearning.com