Using Slide Presentations in the Classroom

Presentation software is an outstanding tool for teachers and students alike.  Used to display text, photos, audio, video, graphs, and charts, presentation software is an integral part of many professions throughout the world.  Integrating it in the classroom provides flexibility for the teacher along with an opportunity to be creative.  Gone are the days of relying on a wall map, printed copies of information, and audiotapes, welcome an endless array of ways to present information to students, while demonstrating how to use it effectively.

The steps involved in creating slide presentations are relatively simple.  Teachers are able to quickly organize the information to be delivered.  The physical attributes of slides are as important as the information.  According to Robyler and Doering, the following qualities can vastly improve the overall presentation:

  1. Use large type
  2. Contrast the test and background colors
  3. Minimize the amount of text on each frame
  4. Keep frames simple
  5. Avoid using too many “fancy” fonts
  6. Avoid using gratuitous graphics and clip art
  7. Avoid using gratuitous sounds
  8. Use graphics, not just text
  9. Present in a dark room
  10. Avoid reading text aloud

If these suggestions are adhered to, then the presentation should be successful.

Teachers use presentation software to provide information to a specific audience. “Growing up with television, computers, and video games, many traditional students are used to and even expect technology to be a part of their learning experience” (Crawley & Frey, 2008).   Presentation software was designed to deliver information in brief increments, while maintaining the attention of the learner.  The slides help to provide a concise visual of a given topic and can be enhanced using interactive multimedia. When provided a copy of the slides prior to the lesson, the learner is able to focus on the information being shared and not incessant note taking.  This is an obvious advantage to using the approach to content delivery.  Another advantage is that “Instructors can adapt their PowerPoint presentation to encourage an active two-way dialogue with students …” (Crawley & Frey, 2008).  Students who take an active part in the learning process are more likely to acquire the knowledge instead of a more passive role.

Students who are exposed to slide presentations during instruction receive several benefits from the experience.  According to Harknett and Cobane, “Students felt that PowerPoint lectures benefited their learning:  Some also felt that the visual emphasis in PowerPoint helped them recall the lecture material during exams.”  Not only do students do better on exams, they also have a reference to look back on when creating their own slide presentations.  Whether it is a book report or a presentation on the Corps of Discovery, slide presentations offer are a viable option to the traditional paper approach.  As long as the students use the guidelines associated with presentation design and follow the project rubric, the possibilities are unlimited.

Speaking from my personal experience with fourth graders, presentation slides are an outstanding tool.  The students are all tasked with creating at least one electronic book report each month.  Once the presentations are created, the students upload a PDF copy to VoiceThread and narrate the slides, which are then posted on the class blog.  I was skeptical that it would work but I am very pleased with the final product.

Whether the slides are teacher generated or created by students, presentation software is a useful tool in the classroom.  However several rules of caution apply.  Slide presentations must not be overused, they must follow the design guidelines, and teachers should provide a hard copy of the slides for the students to follow along during the presentation.  Presentation software is an outstanding tool for the classroom, just use caution and do not become the “PowerPoint Ranger”.


Crawley, D. C., & Frey, B. A. (2008). Examining the relationship between course management systems, presentation software, and student learning: An exploratory factor analysis. International Journal of Information and Communication Technology Education, 4(1), 1-7,9-14. Retrieved from

Harknett, R.J. & Cobane, C.T.  (1997).  Introducing instructional technology to international relations.  Political Science & Politics, 30, 496-500.

Roblyer, M.D. & Doering, A.H.  (2013). Integrating Educational Technology Into Teaching, (6th ed.).   Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education, Inc.


2 thoughts on “Using Slide Presentations in the Classroom

  1. Catherine, I love your conclusion statement and the use of the term “PowerPoint Ranger”. What a clever way to describe poor use of PowerPoints! I also like how you describe the two-way communication that is possible when students use presentation software. I completely agree that students learn more when they have an active role in the learning process. One last thing I noticed…in point 2 at the beginning, you typed the word ‘test’ instead of ‘text’. I hate it when I make mistakes like that, so I thought you might want to know as well. Great post!

  2. “Gone are the days of relying on a wall map…”

    Do you know how many of these are still in our classrooms? I’m not sure how many are actually used, but these are all primed for recycling. Our SMART boards are the windshield to our world now…

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