By Stacey Pounsberry
Writing Center Coordinator
Delaware Technical Community College
You can’t underestimate the instructional impact of a good visual aid. Whether it’s a manipulative model of the skeletal system, a graphic organizer outlining programming models, or simply an expo marker and a whiteboard, visual aids help reinforce ideas and organize thoughts in the classroom.
Thanks to technology, visual aids are now available at the click of a mouse, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse. I want to share my thoughts on three pieces of educational technology that you are likely to see in the classroom.
Let’s start with the ubiquitous Powerpoint. The biggest challenge with this software is that it doesn’t move in a dynamic way, its aesthetic appeal is clunky, and most of the time people just end up reading straight off the screen. I could continue, but I wouldn’t be saying anything Death By Powerpoint hasn’t already. So why would anyone use this stale software?
Sometimes you just need to get back to basics and deliver the information in a format you know everyone will have (well, almost everyone—looking at you, iLife). But if you’re still using this software, there is Life After Death By Powerpoint.
But if you were just staying in your presentation comfort zone, wouldn’t you like to branch out and explore a little instead? There’s good stuff out there! It may be time to say goodbye to the old, faithful Powerpoint and try on some different presentation software, such as…
Nothing reinforces key concepts like the elegant simplicity and stunning design of a Haiku Deck presentation. I use the streamlined design of each slide to outline my key objectives, offer step-by-step instructions, and facilitate discussions.
However, the best part about this free app is how quick it is to put a presentation together on the iPad. The app automatically searches for key terms and finds beautifully composed pictures to go with the topic of each slide.
I can take notes while my students are talking about an idea in groups, and then create a summary of their thoughts while walking around the room. When they’re done percolating ideas or wrapping up a project, I can connect to Apple TV and display their findings on the projector instantly.
Don’t have an iPad? You can still use Haiku Deck! Simply check out haikudeck.com to see how to use the software from your computer.
Looking for presentation software that offers a unique range of motion, the ability to load video, music, and pictures found directly within the software, and a number of options for graphic organization and visual design? If you haven’t heard about Prezi, then it’s possible you’ve been living under the proverbial rock. If that’s the case, never fear: the site offers a myriad of tutorials and an intuitive interface that allows for a fairly quick study to pick it up in no time. You can even upload those old Powerpoint slides and give them a new coat of paint!
Although it takes a little longer than whipping up a presentation on Haiku Deck, Prezi allows for more flexibility. If you have the time to invest in a good Prezi, it will wow your students and provide them with a much more interactive study tool than a print-out of PowerPoint slides.
A teacher’s job is full of ruts, and one of the best ways to dig yourself out of a rut is to try something new. So try some new visual aids. If you revamp your visuals, you might just end up revamping your entire class.
What visual aids do you use to enhance your classroom? Leave a comment and let us know.