Is PowerPoint the new 'chalk and talk'?

16th December 2011 at 00:00

The first slide shows a baffling pair of clip-art images. One appears to be an outline of a school and the other is an alarm clock. The images only make a bit more sense a few seconds later when the presentation's title fades in:

"Can we stop PowerPoint turning the clock back on schools?"

The next slide shows a sepia photo of a classroom, taken at least a century ago, with pupils sat in neat rows in front of a blackboard. And then the bullet points start flying across the screen one by one, each accompanied by a tinny "whoosh".

- For decades, teachers have been advised to avoid "chalk and talk" - lessons simply involving lectures from the front of the class.

- Indeed, the phrase "chalk and talk" has been in use since the 1930s. (It might be even older: Scottish teachers began using blackboards in the 18th century.)

- Modern technology was supposed to help change that .

The image of the old classroom fades away to show a modern one. The new picture is in colour and the teacher is in front of an interactive whiteboard, although the room still looks oddly similar. Then up flies a barrage of figures showing the rise of interactive whiteboards and projectors since the late 1990s, before they are replaced by another slide of bullet points.

- But, too often, interactive whiteboards aren't being used, well, interactively.

- One of the chief culprits is PowerPoint.

A slide on "Death by PowerPoint" appears, listing criticisms of poor presentations. (And not just from the education world: "The US military calls dull PowerPoint briefings to journalists `hypnotising chickens'.")

In a font resembling handwriting in chalk, a series of new bullet points appears against a blackboard background.

- At least on the blackboard you could change direction mid-lesson.

- It was also easier to hand the chalk over to a pupil.

- So what can you do?

With no alternative available, you click to turn to the next page.

Michael Shaw is editor of TESpro @mrmichaelshaw.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now