Wednesday, December 5, 2007

To Pre-Post or Not to Pre-Post?

All right, fall semester is ending and we've been very much distracted, but here we are again. The question has arisen: when one has the PowerPoint presentation for class prepared significantly in advance, is it wise to post it online? (This is in relation to presentations that definitely will be online after class.)
One of my students suggested that it would be good to have the images ahead of time, and I didn't have any objection in principle. A colleague, however, states that this leads to students simply printing out the presentation and feeling that there's no need to take notes on the lecture.
I said, what, when the only data on the presentation is the image, the artist, the title, and the year?
She said yes, even so.
Let's have some discussion on this!


madcynic said...

Like it or not - but the colleague is most probably correct. Applying the good old 80-20 rule suggests that 80 percent of the students who would print out and not bother to take add'l notes. In addition, 80 of all students probably wouldn't bother to print out.

Please note that the numbers are based on my experience studying German and English at a German university. ;)

Karla said...

The instructors at a Blackboard workshop I recently attended did recommend posting the Powerpoints ahead when possible, and several faculty members said that they had found this helpful for students.

Of course, it depends a bit on the subject and also on how you set up the Powerpoints. And it definitely depends on the individual students' interest in really learning the material.

JuliaF said...

I have to say that in my experience, posting PowerPoints ahead of time does no harm to attendance, nor does it seem to affect the level of discussion or note-taking, to my knowledge. Students (these are the ones with vested interest in the material, or at least the ones that want to get A's) have commented time and time again that they print the presentations out in the three-image-per-page format, with lines for note-taking at the side, and are able to better organize their notes. (This is, in fact, the way that I organize my lecture notes.) I remember as an undergrad in lectures where I was sometimes seeing up to a hundred slides an hour, my own hurried descriptions/visual analysis in addition to the historical notes I was jotting made for a jumbled mess.

At the very least, students have the option of using the PowerPoint slides to make flash cards for studying the works for exams, though certainly this could be achieved by posting lecture slides after the fact.

I very rarely include text on these slides, other than artist/title/date if applicable. For most of the detail slides, I show only the image. I do however, pose questions on the slides so that I am reminded to ask the students to comment on the image in front of them, and I see no harm in students having these questions ahead of time, since they'll only hear the answers/comments by attending class. If anything, it may prompt them to show up by piquing their interest!

Karla said...

Julia's practice is very much like what I am doing this semester. I put very little text on the slides other than identification of the images and an occasional study question. Now and then I add in a quotation I've found somewhere or a chunk of information from the Web that will be there for the students to read at their leisure.

I am posting all my Powerpoints ahead of class, though admittedly not always very many hours ahead since I keep tinkering with them. Many students do print them out in the three-up format and use them for note-taking.

I'm feeling very comfortable with this but of course a lot depends on the nature of the Powerpoints and the motivation of the students.