Tuesday, December 7, 2010

10 Alternatives to PowerPoint

PowerPoint is one of those software that most teachers are willing to jump right in and learn because they see it EVERYWHERE.  I myself am guilty of over-using PowerPoint to the "point" that it was an ineffective teaching tool.  Now that I am out of the classroom, several other options for lecture are available for teachers to use that provide more engaging and effective methods of teaching.

1) Probably the most notable and most widely used is Prezi.  I have written about Prezi several times and you can see those posts here.  Another option is a software called Ahead that uses the similar Zoom features.  I have had little experience using it solely because I have been more impressed with Prezi.  If you are someone who is determined to use slides, Slide Rocket is an option I recommend because it allows you to easily share the presentations over the web with students.  If doing a PowerPoint Presentation is completely necessary, then I would recommend viewing the Do's and Don'ts of PowerPoint.

2.) Digital Story Telling - A picture is worth a thousands words.  We have all heard that saying.  If that is the case, wouldn't this be a great way to lecture?  The great thing is that there are so many Digital Story Telling tools available on the web to use that you could always use a different one to keep the presentation format fresh.  You can read about several digital story telling tools here.  Choose one and try it out.  Use pictures to convey meaning.

3.) Glogster is a great tool and has been one of my favorites for the year.  A lot of teachers view it as a great tool for student presentations.  I also view it as a great tool to use for lectures.  With the ability to embed video, audio, and links, it because a fully interactive presentation tool.  If you can make students use it for presentations, why not use it for lecture?

4.) In college, every professor was a lecture king.  That is the way I was taught.  Rarely was I provided visuals or supplements for a lecture.  I might have been provided an outline, but not much else.  If you are giving a lecture to students, take them to the computer lab and allow them to participate in a lecture using a Back Channel Chat.  This can turn a standard oral lecture into an engaging discussion.  When you mention something and students have more questions about it, they can ask without interrupting.  It makes for a great interactive lecture.  There are several options for Back Channel Chat: Todays Meet, Typewith.me, and TitanPad for starters.  For math teachers, it might be a good idea to use a site like Twiddla so that you can work on math problems collaboratively. 

5.) Use Skype and have a guest lecturer speak to your class.  Use a site like Wallwisher for students to engage in a discussion with each other, you, and the guest following the lecture.  Have students prepare questions ahead of time for the guest.  Bringing an expert into the classroom is a great way to engage students in a new way.

6.) Comic Strips are a growing aspect of education.  More and more sites allow teachers and students to create comic strips for no cost at all.  A good idea might be to turn your normal Power Point into a cartoon lecture.  Provide spaces in the comic for students to fill in the blanks or answer questions.  You could engage students by asking them what they think might happen in the next frame.  You could also expand on the lecture and have students create their own comic strips based on your lecture or create the next lecture for you.  You can find information about comic strip sites here

7.) Another great option that goes right along with comic strips are cartoons.  There are a couple cartoon creating websites available out there, Go Animate and Xtranormal to name a couple.  Something tells me that it would catch your students attention if they walked in class and watched a cartoon for their lecture and had to take notes.  You could stop the cartoon at any point to allow questions or cue students.

8.) Use Twitter with your lecture.  Create a PLN and share your lecture topic a couple days before.  Use a Hashtag and ask questions to other educators that relate to your lecture topic.  Create an interactive lecture with students.  Teach Paperless has a great example of how Twitter enhanced his lecture.

9.) As mentioned above, it might be worth while to create a Wallwisher for your lecture and allow students to comment and share their thoughts and questions about the lecture.  You might provide further discussion based on the student's responses. 

10.) You may have used some of these options.  You may be a teacher who just lectures orally.  Expand on that lecture by copying and pasting your lecture and creating a Word Cloud.  Use a site like Wordle and help students get a better grasp of what was discussed most in your lecture.  Chances are your test will appear similar to what words appear most in the Word Cloud.  If it does not, you might want to compare your lecture with your test again.