Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The end of Powerpoint?

New research at UNSW suggests that receiving the same information in more than one format at a time reduces the amount that is remembered. Not only does this have implications for Powerpoint use, but (as the article itself suggests) for Bible reading in churches. I used to always read along (and even mouth the words as they were read) on the assumption that multiplying formats would aid memory, but more recently I often just listen and find myself better able to concentrate.
This post available as a podcast upon request.


Matt Lemieux said...

I don't know if I am going to be able to completely block all knowledge of this post without that podcast you offer... ;-)

Anthony said...

I gave up reading along years ago, and have been thinking lately that if I give up listening as well, then I'll have no difficulty with concentrating!

As for PowerPoint - well, in the beginning was the Word, not the bullet before it.

But seriously, does anyone really try to listen and read the PP simultaneously? I thought the whole point was being able to switch back and forth between the two?

David said...

i've found recently that i prefer to listen and think rather than follow too

David said...

what's the podcast?

andrew said...

I'm not surprised at news of this research finding and I've come across similar ideas before. Two communications experts, Cliff Atkinson and Richard E. Meyer, have argued in the past that what they term 'PowerPoint overload' can be lessened by not putting text which is spoken up on a screen. Rather, they argue that illustrations and diagrams demonstrating basic relationships between concepts are much more usefully displayed on a screen while any text is simply narrated.

I don't like having bible readings projected on the screen whilst it is being read (which happens at my church). It is better to sit back and listen, and let the reader's voice communicate the written word.

You might be interested in the work of a man called Edward Tuft. Back in 2003 he declared (somewhat facetiously) That 'PowerPoint is Evil' because while 'Power Corrupts, PowerPoint Corrupts Absolutely.' He also backs up his claim with some interesting evidence. See the wired magazine website for a short article, or his own website for more details.

andrew said...

Oh, and check out the Gettysburg PowerPoint Presentation.

It makes its point very, very well.

Thuloid said...

I always read along if I have the choice, and I always will. Truth is, I can hardly remember anything that is just said--maybe for an hour or so, but longer than that and it's gone. I remember what I read very well; so if I just listened, I'd lose it all, and if I read, I gain something (and mostly filter out the reading aloud).

Same reason I take notes in lectures--so I have something written down, which then I can possibly remember (from writing and reading it).

Now, if they want to argue that I should work from written sources alone, I guess I'm open to that. But if the primary mode of reception is supposed to be aural, I'll supplement (read: replace to the best of my ability) with the visual every time.

Mandy said...

Given that I most often try and read along in the greek while the NT is being read, maybe it works because I'm not just reading what is also being said aloud.

I remember going to work seminars about PowerPoint that always emphasised using a picture or diagram to reinforce what you were saying, not a page full of words. In some ways that's why the auto-formatting is actually helpful: you can't put too many words on the screen at once.

In Church I'd rather no PowerPoint than bad PowerPoint.

psychodougie said...

i was told by a maths teacher that you'll be able to get through to anyone (as long as they want to understand) if you present the information in three different ways.

i've found it pretty useful, not just for them, but also for me when teaching; can i present this in three different ways? do i understand it deeply enough to explain it as such?

but i don't think it means three ways concurrently.