Wednesday, April 4th 2007

Australian study concludes that Microsoft PowerPoint is a 'disaster'

Australian professors at the University of NSW have done some significant PowerPoint research. If you ever get bored watching a PowerPoint presentation while someone is talking, then you're not alone, and there's a scientific reason behind this. Scientists have discovered that people learn best when given media on paper or verbal media. A combination of the two tends to cause a brain overload, mixes the two forms of information, and can hurt a lot more than it can help. This is due to the fact that the brain can only handle two or three tasks at once, and otherwise will start to budget time away from some tasks to help others Professor Sweller says that "It is effective to speak to a diagram, because it presents information in a different form. But it is not effective to speak the same words that are written, because it is putting too much load on the mind and decreases your ability to understand what is being presented."

These findings then go on to challenge things that have been tradition for centuries. First, this shows that if we balance, say, AIM, Windows Media Player, and a History essay, we would pay less attention to the much-more-important History essay. More importantly, these findings challenge the way we teach our children. While most school teachers use a combination of written and verbal methods to teach curriculum (usually combining both at once), the proven better approach is to present the curriculum in an either purely verbal or purely written form.Source: The Age
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23 Comments on Australian study concludes that Microsoft PowerPoint is a 'disaster'

#1
infrared
I think the aussies are onto something!
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#2
NamesDontMatter
if your a college student you know the truth about powerpoint.
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#3
xylomn
does this mean i have an excuse not to have to do anymore presentations at uni :D
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#4
v7100
nope.. dont speak the same words instead use diagram... ;)

"It is effective to speak to a diagram, because it presents information in a different form. But it is not effective to speak the same words that are written, because it is putting too much load on the mind and decreases your ability to understand what is being presented."

by: xylomn
does this mean i have an excuse not to have to do anymore presentations at uni :D
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#5
hat
Maximum Overclocker
Ah, thats bullshit.
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#6
Keiki
That is so true, if you're in college or uni you will definitely agree with this.

As my friend's prof calls it, "Death by Powerpoint"
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#7
Benpi
I think this study was only conducted on people who suck at fast paced video games.
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#8
DaJMasta
It's not powerpoint's fault the people who use it don't know how to present.


It's great as a non-text supplement to a presentation, and good as an outline presentation on it's own.



People just need to realize it's not ok to write everything on a slide and read off it in a monotone to be successful.
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#9
ex_reven
by: DaJMasta
It's not powerpoint's fault the people who use it don't know how to present.

It's great as a non-text supplement to a presentation, and good as an outline presentation on it's own.

People just need to realize it's not ok to write everything on a slide and read off it in a monotone to be successful.
totally true

in fact we now get marked on how well we use powerpoint to supplement our school presentations. If we use powerpoint in a way that doesnt engage the audience we get marked down.
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#10
Zalmann
Well, as we say where I work, some meetings are "death by powerpoint". Some presentations are so increadibly boring and contain so much detail, that filtering through information that is useful is almost impossible. That's why I request a summary at the end when anyone is presenting to me, kind of like an executive summary on some reports.
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#11
NamesDontMatter
by: v7100
nope.. dont speak the same words instead use diagram... ;)

"It is effective to speak to a diagram, because it presents information in a different form. But it is not effective to speak the same words that are written, because it is putting too much load on the mind and decreases your ability to understand what is being presented."
EXACTLY! You hit it spot on. Many people simply don't know how to do presentations using powerpoints and use it as a krutch. A powerpoint is only meant to be a visual aid, and can be a very strong one if used correctly. The way its supposed to work is you have a section of your notes on a particular topic for each slide. Sometimes a slide will only contain one picture. You Shoudl NEVER put more than a paragraph on a powerpoint because then the audience is confused, should they read that or listen to you talk.

Its very simple the whole concept, but many people still don't understand.
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#12
Zalmann
by: NamesDontMatter
EXACTLY! You hit it spot on. Many people simply don't know how to do presentations using powerpoints and use it as a krutch. A powerpoint is only meant to be a visual aid, and can be a very strong one if used correctly. The way its supposed to work is you have a section of your notes on a particular topic for each slide. Sometimes a slide will only contain one picture. You Shoudl NEVER put more than a paragraph on a powerpoint because then the audience is confused, should they read that or listen to you talk.

Its very simple the whole concept, but many people still don't understand.
It also depends on your audience. If your presenting to techos, then you can include more detail, when you're presenting to management, then summarise only without details, and use simple diagrams. I get bored shitless when a techo presents something to me and I can't understand what the hell he/she is on about, and they never get to the point until close to the end.
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#13
Ketxxx
Heedless Psychic
I like visual aids, and if the visual is saying the same thing as the speaker, then I just ignore the speaker entirely :D
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#14
DanTheBanjoman
Señor Moderator
How does it apply to Microsoft Powerpoint and not to all programs on the market? I think it's rather biased to name Powerpoint alone.

Also I disagree that having both paper and verbal is overloading for the brain. I understand many things a lot easier when someone makes a nice drawing to go with it while that drawing alone is pointless without the person explaining.
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#15
Zalmann
by: DanTheBanjoman
How does it apply to Microsoft Powerpoint and not to all programs on the market? I think it's rather biased to name Powerpoint alone.

Also I disagree that having both paper and verbal is overloading for the brain. I understand many things a lot easier when someone makes a nice drawing to go with it while that drawing alone is pointless without the person explaining.
Well, it applies to powerpoint more as it is used as the presentation media, to try and get your point across with pretty pictures and diagrams.

A good presenter, and presentation will give dot point summary and charts/diagrams which are simple and are not "too busy", (ie. have too much detail). That's what I consider important, especially to get your point across to an audience who may have a short attention span.
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#16
freeboy
I am sorry , whatwas this thread about, I feel asleep?
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#17
Zalmann
by: freeboy
I am sorry , whatwas this thread about, I feel asleep?
Would you like a powerpoint presentation to wake you up? :)
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#18
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
Now I can blame this for why I fall asleep everyday in class.
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#19
WarEagleAU
Bird of Prey
Anything in a conference or class room where the lights are darkened and there is a subtle fan noise, will make you bored and sleepy. It happens here at GE, where I work in ADF for LCDs (TV and PC) and we due presentations of safety and ethics and such. PLus, our manager has one of those nice sleepy inducing voices so.
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#20
freeboy
STOP ALREADY! I feel so old, class? omfg!
So I used to catch winkies after my lunch, when in a social studies, stupid name for a class without a point in HS , when they turn off lights for a slide show, dating myself? I could prop up my head so it looked like I was awake and close eyes and sleep, at least in my youth I did not snore!
Bugger!
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#21
ex_reven
by: WarEagleAU
Anything in a conference or class room where the lights are darkened and there is a subtle fan noise, will make you bored and sleepy.
OMG I hate that!
Its like time slows down and your stoned. It also becomes harder to breathe and it hurts your eyes to look around too much. Your reaction times goto suck mode. :roll:
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#22
DanTheBanjoman
Señor Moderator
by: Zalmann
Well, it applies to powerpoint more as it is used as the presentation media, to try and get your point across with pretty pictures and diagrams.
No, Powerpoint is the program, the medium is the beamer/screen. There are plenty of programs that do the same as Powerpoint, however they only name Powerpoint and don't mention there being more. So to the average user Powerpoint is bad now and all similar programs aren't.

It's like saying "mars candybars are bad for your health" while taking about all candy. It focuses all the negativity towards one product.
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#23
Zalmann
by: DanTheBanjoman
No, Powerpoint is the program, the medium is the beamer/screen. There are plenty of programs that do the same as Powerpoint, however they only name Powerpoint and don't mention there being more. So to the average user Powerpoint is bad now and all similar programs aren't.

It's like saying "mars candybars are bad for your health" while taking about all candy. It focuses all the negativity towards one product.
Well, I think the argument is about HOW it (or other similar programs) are used, and not the program itself. Most people don't know how to use it effectively to get their message across.
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