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PowerPoint is NOT enough

As recent business school graduates from the University of California, Berkeley, my fellow peers and I are facing the challenge of being thrust into jobs in what we once called the “real world.” This major transition has been difficult and has tested the skills and knowledge I gained from my classes.

In many of my business classes it was common for my professors to use a PowerPoint presentation to support the lecture; although this mundane practice is not entirely ineffective, it does not allow for students to maximize their total learning potential. Based on my experience in transitioning from university to the real world, I don’t think PowerPoint presentations are enough to prepare students for their future careers. Although I know not every student is going to feel fully prepared for what lies ahead, I propose that there are three things that would help—three things I wish I had when I was a student.

  • Video, text, PPT. One of my professors liked to use an array of slides during class, some of which only had images. While she discussed the importance of the image, I found myself frantically taking notes, focusing more on typing the words than on internalizing the material itself. In preparation for exams I would return to my notes and have a hard time understanding my incomplete sentences and remembering what she said. Although her slides were on the class resource website, I still struggled to find information about what she said regarding a particular slide. Why can’t we have video, text and PPT together?
  • TED-sized talks (or smaller). In addition to this, it is important that the material is taught in manageable increments; because there is a certain time frame each professor has to teach all of their material, many concepts are crammed into each lecture in hopes that students have the mental capacity to retain it all. To better allow students to succeed, professors shouldn’t use their PowerPoint slides as a way to cram in as much information as possible, but rather as a mechanism to explain complex topics that may be hard to grasp.
  • Testing is good. It’s odd for a college student to admit, but I have found that having the option to test yourself before exams challenges you in a way that ultimately helps you retain more information and feel more prepared for the real thing. I was given the opportunity to take online practice exams and was able to retain the information substantially better. The key behind this philosophy is that repetition and review gives students the chance to learn. Being able to utilize several different resources for studying and learning allows students to graduate feeling confident and comfortable teaching others what they know.

In conclusion, I think that NOT solely using PowerPoint presentations in college classes will give students the chance to learn more dynamically and effectively. If professors are able to present their course material in a manageable time frame and utilize technological advancements, such as the ability to record and transcribe lectures, students will step more confidently into their first “real world” jobs.

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