The Classroom as Spectacle

Sensing that the human voice is no longer adequate to deliver a lecture, and desperate to boost their ratings among a youthful demographic, the savviest of professors now rely on Powerpoint to do their classroom bidding. With each passing lecture comes the further maturation of technological proficiency within the pedagogic avant-garde.

Having evolved from monotonous and seemingly endless slideshows composed entirely of text, Powerpoint-lectures now appear naked unless ornately burdened with a curious mixture of transition effects that lack all subtlety and purloined images from the pen of Gary Larson. Still, the evolution is incomplete. Just recently, one brave professor dared to raise the bar that much higher by boldly experimenting with an irrelevant video-clip whose educational purpose shall forever remain unknown.

Watching our professors become awestruck in the presence of an arsenal of high-tech gadgets is akin to watching a babble of wide-eyed children tremble at the sight of the latest offerings from Mattel. In both instances one finds the same fanatical belief that, finally!, everything has changed and now anything is possible. Granted, new possibilities have emerged, most notable among them the potential for an electronic faux pas.

Remember this: In all Powerpoint-dependant lectures—no matter how well scripted—there is that inevitable, awkward moment when the professor, unwittingly captivated by the computerized spectacle of their own creation, confuses the skill of the software with that of their own.

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~ by Sean Best on March 15, 2008.

2 Responses to “The Classroom as Spectacle”

  1. Interesting post! PowerPoint has become the alibi for professionalism. It is often said that the most useful feature in PowerPoint is the bullet points, and that the least useful feature in PowerPoint is the bullet points. On one hand PP is forcing us to make focused and clear statements, on the other hand there is always the possibility of oversimplifying. It is of course not the technology itself that does the trick, but how it is used in a particular setting. And I agree with you, it often seems that the users of PP is “confuses the skill of the software with that of their own”. (Good formulation, by the way.)

  2. complexation says : I absolutely agree with this !

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