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September 05, 2006

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nate archer

Great post, you made some really valid points. As a 20-year old myself I was taught the PPT "skills" in high school and would dread having to see what those presentations looked like. It is true that good powerpoint presentations are the ones that aren't powerpoint but from the presenter's mind. To effectively teach kids technology skills, close attention to teaching them correctly is essential.

Vincent van Wylick

Too much focus on presentation-skills? I'm asking this because of Jason Calacanis recent comment in an interview that all these new web2.0 businesses are like powerpoint-presentations, all flashy but no real content.

Are we training our kids to be big fakies? Note that I differentiated between giving a presentation and actually knowing how to do something.

No offence intended at this blog, I love it! The interview can be found here, btw. (linking doesn't work in comments?): http://www.venturevoice.com/2006/08/vv_show_38_jason_calacanis_of.html#more

Liz Lawley

Kids use computers in ways that are modeled by the adults around them.

My son was writing HTMl code and Javascript before he was 11, and blogging before he was 12. He uses his computer to create 3D models (it's like a virtual lego set for him), write, and create digital video.

But he does that because he's imitating the uses he sees. If all he saw was me web browsing and creating PPTs, that's probably what he'd be doing, too.

Eric Jurotich

My daughter started using PowerPoint when she was 8. What was interesting was her total rejection of templates as "boring." Every slide had a different color scheme, font, layout, etc. While they certainly wouldn't win a design competition, her presentations were far more interesting and compelling than the typical corporate dreck I see daily.

The tool is what you make of it.

Kaido

A bit out of topic question. If googling becomes a common term, does Goole lose the sole right to the brand name?

Davo

As someone who until recently had to teach PowerPoint to 11-year-olds in the UK, I can vouch for how difficult it is to get them to think about it. All they want is to cover the screen with badly-chosen WordArt and pictures of cars / pop-stars (irrespective of the topic of the presentation) and then zip them around with ridiculous animations and annoying sounds.

I don't think I managed to convince any of them to actually present to the class - they just silently hit Space as it played on screen. Maybe now I'm at college (16-19) I will be able to teach some design ideas in the presentations (and figure out how to use well-designed presentations to enhance my teaching)

Robert Smelser

I think the challenge for teachers and students is in using computers in a way that naturally enhances the learning. Too often we focus on planning our lessons around the computers, so we end up creating limits for the technology use that may stifle or discourage creative and independent thinking.

Instead, we should primarily plan to teach the content of our lessons, and we (as well as the children) should be on the lookout for opportunities to invite technology into those lessons. All to often in schools, the emphasis gets placed on the tools rather than the outcome when tech comes into play.

Good posting!

Michael Chui

Computers, like Powerpoint, are tools and nothing more. While the problem with Google, Wikipedia, and Powerpoint are all the same -- their ease of use makes it easy to abuse them -- in the case of education, the fault rests on the teachers who haven't shown kids how to dig past the first layer.

I elaborate, rant-style, on my journal here:
http://raccaldin36.livejournal.com/988844.html

(Sidenote: Kaido, I don't think they do. As a brand name, its usage as a verb increases the strength of the brand. As a legal entity, it's very clear that Google had it first, and Google is still alive, so making a search engine called Googol would probably still be trademark infringement.)

Pepperpot

It's a very good question. The government in the UK has always been quick to produce curriculum dictats that list computer skills like 'Be able to send an e-mail', and slow to realise that child who is 5 today will have no use for these type of skills when she enters the world of work because the technology will have moved on. I think the number one IT skill that a child must learn is discrimination - how to evaluate the information you have gathered and assess its quality and bias.

I also think PowerPoint has cursed education, but more through its misuse by teachers (my thoughts here http://iytywnm.blogspot.com/2006_06_01_iytywnm_archive.html)

Christoph Weber

I'm a father of three who are almost out of school by now and have watched them from taking babysteps to doing more on a computer and faster than I do. The "teaching computer skills" angle is vastly overrated. Software is easy to learn and use. The hard part if using the computer to achieve a goal. In the end, my kids still had to draft an essay or presentation, revise it and finally hand in a polished final version. Polished meaning it had to be in proper English with well organized and clearly presented content. The medium and tool certainly never mattered much, except that computers make revisions easier and faster.
So, is the computer a bicycle for the mind in my family? It can be, and actually has been, but mostly it' just a tool. It very much depends what a kid does with it. In our neighborhood we have kids with bikes who are total couch potatoes, and likewise there are kids who had their own computer for ages and never did more than IM their friends with inane banter (if that). My kids are a bit above that, but then I've not let them get away with cheap content and virtual "slouching", and neither did their teachers.

Douwe van der Werf

I myself have been using a computer for only five years. I went from a computer n00b to a computer graphics professional. Within a time-frame of 5 years, I learned to bring the images in my head to a printable or playable product and I haven't stop riding since.

I think there is a big gap socially and professionally now between the bike riders and the ones preferring to walk, or simply not able to cycle. The computer has not only served as a bike to individual minds, but also to mankind itself. If it is a positive or negative thing is debatable, but I just guess it was an inevitable step in our evolution, similar to the birth of speech in our species. It propelled us and took us much further in a short period of time. Too bad it still hasn't taught us to be kind to our fellow man or the earth.

Steve was right; despite his hairstyle in the video.

Keith Burnett

Back to the Alan Kay quote at the beginning, PowerPoint makes an OK tool for presenting screen based learning packages and 'kiosk' applications.

Just switch off the slide transitions and use 'action settings' to link to other slides. Colleagues get into the whole navigation menu/branching links thing then. They also have to abandon the slide layouts as the text is far too big for screen based packages designed to be read by a person at a computer. After a mad linking session comes the idea of planning :-)

I know this is not presentation, but an exercise on linking slides might help break the expectations?

Tracy W

Kids use computers in ways that are modeled by the adults around them.

My son was writing HTMl code and Javascript before he was 11, and blogging before he was 12. He uses his computer to create 3D models (it's like a virtual lego set for him), write, and create digital video.

But he does that because he's imitating the uses he sees. If all he saw was me web browsing and creating PPTs, that's probably what he'd be doing, too.

I don't think so.

I grew up when PCs were first coming into the home and Dad would bring home a luggable from work for us to play with.

I didn't copy my Dad because he only did boring stuff with spreadsheets and writing reports with his computer. Instead I learnt how to use the computer to create art, as that was what I was interested in, and later on taught myself to program in Basic when illness meant I was stuck at home for weeks on end. (Meanwhile Mum managed to run a small business for eleven years before getting her first computer).

And then I nagged my parents to buy new graphics programs for me.

About the only thing I copied from my Dad was that I learnt to write macros for Word when I saw that he'd written one to create smart quotes.

My now husband used to get phone calls at school from his Dad asking how to undo whatever his son had done to his laptop. And hubby always knew how to do that.

One of my Dad's friends eventually hired his son to do presentations for his work.

Kids learn stuff that interest them. They don't just imitate parents - if they did then long plane flights with kids would be a lot less exasperating. :)

David Douglass

"Computers are useless. They can only give you answers."

Pablo Picasso
Spanish Cubist painter (1881 - 1973)

marco  comastri

in 1973 there was no internet yet

Esther Kaplan

I think that computer labs are a waste of time and money when used in Elementary schools. Our public schools have very limited resources right now. I'm blown away that the schools can come up with money for computer labs while band halls are being closed down, art teachers are eliminated and hands on science is being put on the back burner! Technology changes anyway. Why not wait until the children are in high school, and have developed critical thinking skills before giving them this "tool"?

Nelly

Computers, like Powerpoint, are tools and nothing more. While the problem with Google, Wikipedia, and Powerpoint are all the same -- their ease of use makes it easy to abuse them -- in the case of education, the fault rests on the teachers who haven't shown kids how to dig past the first layer. http://www.fullmediafire.com

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