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March 12, 2008


Rus Howser

I don't know why so many people run away from the "Entertainer" label. Teaching is entertaining, or rather, as you said, engaging. It is the ability to turn the bald presentation of information into an engaging performance that defines truly great teachers. If you're not entertaining, you're boring. Nobody learns anything unless they're paying attention.

Steven Hoober

By the mid-80s there were certainly bullet-point technologies about.

You could get (if willing to pay for it) printers that would put full-color, rather nice graphics onto transparency or slides. You can then present these pretty much exactly as computerized presentations are today. Those that mixed video in usually had a second screen for the other projector; a system I think works rather better for viewing and captioning.

Of course, most of these were as bad as the typical powerpoint today. A few good designers could sneak in there, but mostly they were run (or excessively specified) by marketing weenies, and were impenetrable charts and too many bullets on patterned backgrounds.

The best presentation I saw in this era was done by Hallmark in one of their PR centers (i.e. company museum). They had THREE projectors and screens, side by side, and used that (plus far-away projectors in the ceiling) to eliminate the sudden transition issues. May not count to you as a presentation as it was canned (no speaker) though.


Garr, I am playing catch-up as I have been distracted by personal events....
In 1977, I took a post as a university post-grad lecturer. I asked my prof. for some tips on lecturing to students. He thought for a few moments and replied "Your first duty is to entertain them. Your second is to inform them," he paused and then continued "but not too much." He went on to explain that, for instance the laws of thermodynamics are quite challenging conceptually so only do one law per lecture and spend time to simplify the approach to make it interesting and accessible... wise words I reflect on as I charge off on creating a new pack of PowerPoint slides.

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