RE: [xmca] Subtleties of Presentation Media

From: Peg Griffin (
Date: Sun Feb 18 2007 - 13:46:05 PST

I think you're right, David P., to tie the ppt discussion to problems in
undergraduate education. The disaffection between
departments/faculty/academic material and undergrads is palpable and
depresses everyone involved, don't you think?
And maybe I think the ppt tie is most right when it's upside down: I
perfectly well know I fail to teach students parceled into large classes
that meet for about 25 hours over 10 weeks. They WOULD be better off
spending time reading good material well, I think, rather than submissively
sitting surreptiously texting. I figure the least I can do is give the
so-called students a ppt with pointers to some inter-organization of some
ideas and some access to sources of some arguments, evidence and questions
about ideas. So I confess that I construct ppts, show them in class, and
put them on the class web. In class I talk about maybe 1/3 to 1/2 the ppt
material. It's kind of like samizdat cliff notes in return for tuition. I
try hard so the ppt does not rule the assessment evidence, though. And I
try to make ppts that do NOT "do" the assigned published readings -- the
tuition payers do not need more evidence that they should skip reading (and
learning to read well) connected texts and instead just learn to regurgitate
in turn bullet points that I or a TA has regurgitated "for" (I think "on")

On the other hand when I have a reasonable chance of really teaching fewer
individuals who can come to be a known functioning student body developing a
corporate approach to relevant material and developing independent thought
and language about the topic, then I find PPT no better or worse than other
means for public-ing the thinking and speaking accessories (like diagrams,
tables, other sorts of figures, class questions) or something for updating
and elaborating the changing tentative agenda of the group. Only rare
"presentations" are called for or helpful, ppt or otherwise. (A class as
large as 37 can be okay I think, especially if a good portion of the
students have escaped some disaffection with each other and me during prior
attempts at teaching and learning in related classes/office hours and figure
that continuing to learn academic literacy is a legitimate young adult
activity not a given trait of those admitted to the hallowed halls.)

Peg G.
PS -- By the way, this notion of someone being a presenter, drives me
bonkers. Talk about a separation of thought and language! Presenter is a
TV quiz show role for the pretty lady that points to puzzle parts or prizes
or a model posing at the annual auto or farm equipment show.
I bet many of you have had the experience of ppt "presentation" as
censorship? You've been asked to be a "presenter," given a ppt someone else
(or some committee) prepared, AND "trained" in a meeting or a phone
conference about how to use it? Or have you been asked to submit a ppt you
plan to use for a meeting or conference and then had someone tell you to
change parts or even just go ahead and change it themselves?
I tell the organizers I figure if people have something they want said to
the expected gathered folk they should say it themselves; why should I be a
"presenter" of their stuff? My credentials are only useful when I'm saying
what I have to say. When I say "oh no" to their ppt or just turn up and use
my own material I get uninvited or listed as an undesirable for a few years
(until they get desperate enough to find someone with some sort of
credentials even if they have to scrape the bottom of the barrel). It's not
a matter of being the person representing a collaborating group; it's a
matter of pushing the "talking points" as in a political or other marketing
campaign. When they kick me out or I pull out, I enjoy recommending
substitutes that I know will give them even more trouble than I do.

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of David Preiss
Sent: Saturday, February 17, 2007 10:14 AM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] Subtleties of Presentation Media

Hi Michael,
I don't think that lecturers want to be heard as much as they want students
participate in a lively discussion. And ppts are part of the story of why
don't do so. Some time students are the ones asking for true, final
easy to memorize and become alienated from a lecturer that asks them just to
think. There are of course plenty of reasons beyond ppts why undegraduate
education is performing so distant from what we might call a good liberal
education. I guess ppts are part of the symptoms.

Wolff-Michael Roth escribió:
> Isn't at the heart of all this a problem of how we conceive of
> education. As a student, I hardly ever went to lectures preferring
> instead to read several books on the topic. Why do lecturers think
> that what they have to say is so singular that everyone has to be
> there to listen to them? Why not rethink university education from
> the model useful during the dark ages when there were few or no books
> around and a lecturer produced his/her text to be reproduced by those
> who listen.
> David's problem doesn't change with the printed version of the pp
> slides is a resource for doing the same slides again. If David is
> concerned about ownership of his ideas or output of his work, he
> could have produced a web version without the provision of the
> original ppt show attached, in which case it might be impossible to
> change the presentation. Embedding copyright information on the
> bottom of the slide would have allowed the other person to use the
> slides and David's name would have appeared as the copyright holder....
> Michael
> On 17-Feb-07, at 12:17 AM, David Preiss wrote:
> Re the use of ppt in classes I have started to wonder whether they
> are indeed
> a good teaching tool. I have seen that, in some cases, they decrease
> student
> notetaking, student attendance and might erode participation since
> the set of
> the lesson is pre-fixed and they create the ilussion that they are
> ALL the
> story. And you can alwats get the ppt as student. So why going to
> classes?
> Thus, I started wondering how would it be to come back to the old
> days of
> ppt-less lecturing or reducing them to a minimum. Would love to hear
> experiences/opinions.
> david
> Mike Cole escribió:
>> Ugh... michael..... rationality in the sense of having a reason, not
>> necessarily being ugh ugh
>> logical/rationa?
>> mike
>> On 2/16/07, Michael Glassman <> wrote:
>>> David,
>>> What an interesting story. I have been doing some reading and
>>> thinking on
>>> connectivity lately and have come to the conclusion that three little
>>> letters - www - are going to change our universe in ways that we
>>> can't
>>> imagine. One of the ways I believe it is going to change things is by
>>> changing the concept of boundaries, and the notion that ideas can
>>> somehow
>>> can be treated as property. That's right - I think there is a real
>>> possibility that intellectual property will become a thing of the
>>> past. Is
>>> this a good thing or a bad thing. It's hard to say, but I think
>>> it is
>>> coming. Industries that live on intellectual property rights - like
>>> recording, publishing, entertainment - are fighting like mad, but
>>> I'm not
>>> sure they will be able to do anything to stop the wave.
>>> So getting back to your particular scenario. What would have been
>>> the
>>> difference if the TA found your Power Point presentation on the
>>> internet,
>>> and downloaded it, or better yet hyperlinked it (so many of my
>>> students
>>> bring their portables to class - and at Cornell my nephew had to
>>> buy one as
>>> a freshman). And then some of those students thought there was
>>> something
>>> interesting and hyperlinked it to some people they know. Unless
>>> you had a
>>> trackback function, you wouldn't even know where it was going or
>>> who was
>>> using it. People would change it, people would add to it, people
>>> would
>>> desecrate it. But every person using the idea would be equal
>>> because what
>>> was important were the ideas that you created and they took on a
>>> life of
>>> their own. Perhaps the slides would come back to you in a form
>>> you didn't
>>> even recognize. But it wouldn't matter because you connected with
>>> all of
>>> these people - your ideas became viral rather than remaining
>>> hierarchical. The only thing that creates boundaries on the ideas is
>>> rationality. Of cours there may be a really dark side to this whole
>>> phenomenon, there always is. But like I said, I'm thinkng we need to
>>> redefine our ideas of boundaries and ownership.
>>> Michael
>>> ________________________________
>>> From: on behalf of David H Kirshner
>>> Sent: Fri 2/16/2007 11:07 AM
>>> To:
>>> Subject: [xmca] Subtleties of Presentation Media
>>> A few days ago I gave a PowerPoint presentation of my research to our
>>> department. After the presentation, a graduate teaching assistant
>>> in the
>>> department whom I've known for a number of years asked me if he
>>> could have
>>> a copy of the presentation so that he could follow-up with one of his
>>> classes (some of his students also were at the presentation). I
>>> immediately
>>> agreed, but after some debate with myself, I decided to give him
>>> hard copy
>>> of the slides instead. The medium of PowerPoint would erode the
>>> boundaries
>>> between him and me.
>>> Here's a snippet from my note to him. I wonder if this phenomenon
>>> has been
>>> observed/discussed before in the media literature.
>>> Comments welcome.
>>> David Kirshner
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> Hi xxxx,
>>> I've copied out all of my slides (about 50), and left them in your
>>> mailbox.
>>> I'd intended to send you the PowerPoint presentation itself, but
>>> in the
>>> end
>>> felt uncomfortable about doing that.
>>> It's an interesting media phenomenon. If I give you photocopies of
>>> the
>>> slides and you distribute them for discussion to your students,
>>> it's very
>>> clear what are the boundaries between my contribution, and yours. The
>>> slides are mine, the discussion is yours. However, the PowerPoint
>>> medium
>>> is
>>> inherently incomplete. If you present my slides as a PowerPoint
>>> presentation, it no longer is possible to clearly demarcate our
>>> boundaries.
>>> That's because the in the PowerPoint setting, the slides are
>>> inseparable
>>> from the commentary. Thus it's not possible to distinguish what
>>> part of
>>> the
>>> commentary is you and what part is me.
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> xmca mailing list
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> xmca mailing list
>> _______________________________________________
>> xmca mailing list
> --
> David D. Preiss Ph.D.
> Profesor Auxiliar / Assistant Professor
> Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
> Escuela de Psicología.
> Av. Vicuña Mackenna 4860.
> Macul, Santiago de Chile.
> Chile
> Teléfono: (56-2) 354-4605
> Fax: (56-2) 354-4844.
> Web:
> _______________________________________________
> xmca mailing list
> _______________________________________________
> xmca mailing list

David D. Preiss Ph.D.
Profesor Auxiliar / Assistant Professor
Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Escuela de Psicología.
Av. Vicuña Mackenna 4860.
Macul, Santiago de Chile.

Teléfono: (56-2) 354-4605 Fax: (56-2) 354-4844. Web:

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