Tuesday, 22nd May 2007
Tim Buckley Owen
Or, if you prefer, ‘Official: Powerpoint bad for brains’. That seems to be the conclusion to be drawn from the scholarly paper Visualisation and Instructional Design by John Sweller of the School of Education at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.
Drawing on a method called Cognitive Load Theory, Professor Sweller’s main complaint seems to be not about the medium itself but the use of its preset screen designs with bullet points, which actually get in the way of an audience’s understanding of the presentation.
‘It is effective to speak to a diagram, because it presents information in a different form,’ Professor Sweller concedes. ‘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.’
His conclusion is stark: ‘The use of the PowerPoint presentation has been a disaster. It should be ditched.’
News of the research appeared in the Out-Law online newsletter (http://www.out-law.com/default.aspx?page=7938) and a lengthy abstract of Sweller’s paper (which doesn’t mention Powerpoint at all, incidentally) is at http://www.iwm-kmrc.de/workshops/visualization/sweller.pdf.
We’ve all sat through them – we all have to give them. So maybe this is a wake-up call about doing them better.
If you’d like five tips about how to, you could try a video clip from Russell Davies at http://russelldavies.typepad.com/planning/2006/09/download_5_thin.html. However, as Russell himself admits, ‘I talk quite a lot about the importance of editing, but I've failed to take my own advice in this instance. Sorry. It's quite long.’
Alternatively, you could take Russell’s advice and look at Presentation Zen – Garr Reynold’s blog on issues related to professional presentation design (http://www.presentationzen.com/), where you’ll find more ideas on why it might be the message, rather than the medium, that’s at fault.
Document the value chain, and transform the way you think about, manage and report on your product portfolio and your information service contributions to your organisation goals.
Focus on Value Chain
Director of Research Robin Neidorf describes the benefits of a Consulting Pilot on Value Chain, to tailor this process to your needs and environment:
View on Vimeo
Consulting Pilot on Value Chain
Our proven processes, resources and guidance will help your team make the shift from transaction centre to strategic asset.
Designed around the most common challenges and pain points for time- and resource-strapped information teams
Supercharge remote productivity and value
Holistic content portfolio management
Future-proof your information service
A tailored overview of our research and active discussion with your Jinfo analyst.
Measure your starting point to articulate your strengths and set priorities for future improvements. Assessments gauge risk, capacity, value and more.
Read case studies, and start the conversation:
Connect your team with the practical tools, original research and expertise to build and support information strategy in your organisation.
A Jinfo Subscription gives access to all Content (articles, reports, webinars) and Community.