Monday, December 11

Understanding Powerpoint

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              PowerPoint and the generation of the 7th Millennium rules.

If you’re a “Baby Boomer”, PowerPoint will likely not appeal to you. Perhaps you will even feel it is evil. But I’ll give you two good reasons you ought to understand and appreciate PowerPoint. Your children and grandchildren.

PowerPoint is the way the Generation of the 7th Millennium and beyond will cope in this fast-paced, frenetic world of iPods, search engines and micro-minute attention spans. (If man came on to the scene in the year 4026 BCE then 1975 would mark the beginning of the seventh Millennium

Yes, if you were a teen in ’75, you remember reading novels and composing essays for your teachers and professors. On the weekends, you caught movies like Dog Day Afternoon, Mahogany, The Man Who Would Be King, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Love Story, The Stepford Wives, Three Days of the Condor and Monty Python and the Holy Grail (“Sir, by what name be ye known?” …reply? “Some call me Tim?”)

A good plot, drama, and wit (ok, we weren’t perfect then either) ruled the big screen.

But times have evolved. What was a “New York Minute” back then is a New York milli-second today.

The big screen stars born in that notable year include Drew Barrymore, Angelina Jolie, Charlize Theron, and Kate Winslet.

In ’75, there were five notable deaths — Marjorie Main (Ma Kettle), Susan Hayward, The Three Stooges’ Larry Fine and Moe Howard. The fifth death at the birth of the 7th Millennium was not noted for almost 20 years.

The death of which I am speaking is the death of reading and comprehension skills.

Many college professors trace the decline of student reading and retention to 1975, or the beginning of the 7th Millennium.

This is manifested by students who take no notes, wear stylish headsets that re-play lectures which were recorded by professors.

Look at how many professors today use PowerPoint presentations and give copies of the slides to their students to use as a study guide.

Do you really think students have time to read when the Internet furnishes information in lightning-quick fashion?

Why are newspapers folding, libraries closing and reader’s club subscriptions falling? Perhaps the biggest indictment is the Internet. Yes, the industrial age has died and the information age is alive and well. That is, if you like looking at pictures in shades of PowerPoint blue

Delivering and receiving information has changed. There are a new set of rules for writing and reading on the web.

One sentence paragraphs are acceptable. None are longer than three sentences. On the better sites, articles are generally no longer than 750 words. That’s because reading is done by scanning.

To engage a reader (or scanner as the case may be), psychological tricks like connectives are used to tie one paragraph to the next.

There are two kinds of copy on the Internet. One appeals to traditional readers, the other to the newer generation of the 7th Millennium.

The key to educating 7th Millennium students is PowerPoint. The challenge facing educators, speakers and presenters is creating a lecture that can stand on its own merit, utilizing Power Point as a visual aid rather than making Power Point the presentation.

The generation of the 7th Millennium becomes easily bored. Stimulating students’ grey matter neurons requires using our own little grey box of tricks, using word illustrations and probing questions to elevate thinking. Power Point presentations combined with effective speaking tactics are a dynamic one-two punch in the lecture hall.

The future will remember non-predictions of the past as was the case with Jules Vern’s novel conception of a facsimile machine several decades before its creation.

Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 and The Max Headroom Story will be ‘novel’ predictions of the future.

Moving forward, we will no longer look for 15 minutes of fame. No more New York minutes. On the web, things happen in seconds. Our future will soon become our past.

Perhaps the best we can hope for is that everybody will be somebody for 27 seconds. In a world of sound bites, images flashing before our eyes and action movies, the reality is that 27 seconds is an eternity on the net.

Capturing the attention of the generation of the 7th Millennium requires pictures, images, and attention-grabbing devices. PowerPoint is the solution. It is the salvation of tomorrow’s classroom.

May we use Power Point Presentations wisely.

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