August 14, 2013

Joining the ever-growing list of effective people who reject “PowerPoint Presentations” as learning or thinking tools, we find the following quote in THE WASHINGTON POST article by Craig Timberg and Jia Lynn Yang: “Jeff Bezos, The Post’s incoming owner, known for a demanding management style at Amazon” —

Bezos also has agreed to keep the newspaper’s top executives in place, though they may need to work without a popular corporate management tool: PowerPoint presentations.

Bezos all but banned such presentations at Amazon around the time Edward Tufte, a computer science professor at Yale, wrote an essay saying that their bullet points encouraged lazy thinking. Amazon employees are required to write papers, known as “narratives,” that are no longer than six pages.
The idea for Bezos, former employees say, is that the act of writing forces people to focus their thoughts and think them through.

From a recent article in THE NEW YORK TIMES by Jennifer Schuessler, “Humanities Committee Sounds an Alarm,” we read —

A new national corps of “master teachers” trained in the humanities and social sciences and increased support for research in “endangered” liberal arts subjects are among the recommendations of a major report to be delivered on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.

The report comes amid concern about low humanities enrollments and worries that the Obama administration’s emphasis on science education risks diminishing a huge source of the nation’s intellectual strength. Requested by a bipartisan group of legislators and scheduled to be distributed to every member of Congress, it is intended as a rallying cry against the entrenched idea that the humanities and social sciences are luxuries that employment-minded students can ill afford.

People talk about the humanities and social sciences “as if they are a waste of time,” said Richard H. Brodhead, the president of Duke University and a co-chairman of the commission that produced the report. “But this facile negativism forgets that many of the country’s most successful and creative people had exactly this kind of education.”

Regular readers of this blog know that I have continuously scorned PowerPoint Presentations as a learning tool (e-Learning, it is not!) and continually championed the learning values one will find in a good Liberal Arts education. It’s always rewarding to find oneself in such august company as these wise folk — educators and America’s most respected CEO.

And, as a personal side note, the August SALT Conference (Society for Applied Learning Technology) begins today and it will be the first one I have ever missed. For those of you who want to know “what’s coming down the pike” in learning, try to attend one before long. They always hold one conference in the Orlando area in February and the other in the DC area in August. Check them out: https://www.salt.org/salt.asp?ss=l It’s where you’ll glimpse into the future of learning.

More on Monday – – –

— Bill Walton, Founder
ITC Learning

www.itclearning.com/blog/ (Mondays & Wednesdays)
e-Mail: bwalton@itclearning.com