Basic PowerPoint étiquette for teachers.

Today, I was blinded by large comic sans typeface and pixelated photographs for almost an hour in class. The teachers are getting more “tech-savvy” these days and adapting new methods for teaching (or they do it just to complete the syllabus on time). They get too excited and dump in large diagrams flicked directly from university websites (without mentioning the source) and are happy to just read from the slides than teach by themselves. I think it is my duty to respectfully (ahem) point out some basic powerpoint design etiquette to all the teachers (who’re still in the transformation stages) out there.

Dear teachers, believe it or not, a simplistic direct PPT does work quite effectively on students. No need to exaggerate content just because you have an open digital medium that let’s you do many number of things that traditional methods usually don’t.

  • First and the foremost -use decent or plain backgrounds for slides! I know that you get excited seeing many grunge textures and punk pattern templates that microsoft offers, but please refrain from using them against non-elementary reaction flowcharts and kinetics data analysis equations.
  • Please, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD – avoid comic sans. Looks like it is your second favorite font after Times New Roman.
  • Use fonts that are simple and clear to read – preferably sans serifs. Keep the typefaces & size consistent throughout the presentation.
  • Learn color basics (It’s not too late to learn something that doesn’t pertain to your course work. We students learn a lot of non-study related things everyday and it kind of makes us much smarter in the real world). Red on brown, Ink blue on black, yellow on bright orange, etc (you get the drift) will eventually lead to some kind of disorder of vision. Plus, you don’t want us to go blind for the later half of the day.
  • If you want me to cite references in my project report, I want you to credit the photographs/illustrations/diagrams in your power point presentation as well. This is a personal thing, but I’d respect you a lot more if you did.
  • Don’t use animation/transitions on texts! I really don’t want to see words rumbling and rolling all over the place while reading about atomic force microscopy or something. Save the animations for demonstrating real experimental processes instead.
  • 6 x 7 rule – No more than 6 lines per slide and no more than 7 words per line. Use bullets and short-hand writing (consisting of keywords only). We really don’t want to see tons of textbook material copy-pasted on the slides :-|
  • Why oh why, did you type EVERYTHING IN CAPITAL LETTERS?
  • Make lists. We all like reading lists that are progressive and lead us to a final result.
  • Clipboard is not your toy house! Ok.
  • I prefer (personally) if the subject and topic name is mentioned in the footer of every slide. Helps me stick to the theme and not drift away after a couple of slides.
  • Important words could be in a different color.
Finally, make use of this tool only to guide you in teaching. Don’t read everything directly from it and use it as a main source of teaching material. Some teachers just cannot proceed if the projector konks off in the middle of a class! They go blank and call every helper in the building to make it work to resume teaching. This shows how dependent they are on an external support than themselves. Finally, ask students for help. No harm in it.
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15 thoughts on “Basic PowerPoint étiquette for teachers.

  1. I hate it when fellow students read, word for word, off of the power point slides.”Thanks, kid, but I can read. See, that’s why I am here at college. Now it is your turn to give a presentation, not record an audio book”.

  2. Pingback: Basic PowerPoint étiquette for teachers. | Priceless Junk | All about PowerPoint

  3. I come from a time when this was a problem with the students and often complained and/or corrected by the teachers.. the teachers were much effective with plain words and chalk.. it was just 2-3 years back.. i hope the “metamorphosis” doesn’t dwarf teaching in the process of morphing it..

    • Well, this post is applicable to both teachers and students. I’ve come across students making horrendous PPTs too. Plain words and chalk may work for some topics, but certainly not for all. Especially the kind which requires a lot of visualization.

    • I don’t see why it is a “problem”. I think it’s a good thing.
      And it’s not really that they don’t like it or anything. They are just not more open and adaptive to newer methods like we are. But now that’s changing too.

      • They are just not open and adaptive to newer methods as well as they don’t really like to learn from students despite knowing the fact that students are way more advanced than they are. Of course I’m not talking about 100 percent of the teachers. But most of them, at least here in Bangladesh, are alike.

  4. Nice post…
    In companies, we have these power point templates, which ensure that all employees stick to the same formatting framework. It makes all decks created by employees look similar. It exhibits the company’s graphics, colours, fonts and image. It also ensures that people do not use fancy bubble gum slide templates or fonts.
    I think it is now time for schools and colleges as well to come up with standard templates for decks and documents :)

  5. Pingback: sixth semester: keep calm and carry on | Priceless Junk

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