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Random Thoughts on Instructional Design

Teaching With Power Point

In this tutorial we will look at current learning theory and research, usability studies, and practical experience to show you how to effectively use PowerPoint in the classroom. The hands-on exercises in document assume that you are experienced in creating basic PowerPoint presentations.


  • Modify PowerPoint slide masters
  • Pack presentations and associated files for presentation on other computers
  • Save a PowerPoint presentation for the web or course management system
  • Explore PowerPoint and student note taking


While PowerPoint has been around for 17 years, the concept of studying PowerPoint’s effectiveness in the classroom is surprisingly new. The research is kind of thin and is based mostly on student perceptions and performance in large, undergraduate lecture classes. So, consider the recommendations posed in this tutorial guiding principles not a how-to for designing classroom presentations.

Exercises & Recommendations

We all start the same way: we learn how to create simple presentations, ones in which the message is more important than the medium. But as our skills with PowerPoint improve, sometimes our focus shifts from the message to “gilding the lily”. Some people spend hours looking for the right sounds, pictures, or backgrounds to beautify their presentations. They mistakenly assume that bells and whistles improve their presentations — their presentations look better, so they must be better teaching tools. Along the way, they forgot that the primary goal of any classroom PowerPoint presentation isn’t to entertain but rather to teach.

PowerPoint was originally designed for business communication, not teaching. Microsoft added those fancy backgrounds, animations, builds, transitions, etc. to PowerPoint not for you and me but for the business community.

sample busy slide

The fancier the PowerPoint presentation, the less valuable the ideas being presented. (Lovelace, 2001)

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This entry was posted on August 11, 2005 by in Instructional Technology.

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