A long time ago PowerPoint (PPT) presentations were the top choice for lecturers. Nowadays they are far from being a new innovation. Despite its drawbacks, PPT remains a preferred teaching method. However, it is still up to the online tutor to create an active learning experience.
Active vs. passive e-learning
Different teachers prefer different approaches during their online training. However, there is one thing that everyone tries to achieve – to have active students. Furthermore, active students are created through the process of active e-learning.
Passive teaching is a kind of routine activity. It consists mainly of a tutor who creates an online course and then repeats it over and over again. The students are usually passive listeners and, hopefully, take notes.
On the other end of the spectrum lies active teaching, which is a complex process. Online tutors include dynamic and continual recaps of the material. Furthermore, they often change the teaching approach and methods. This type of online training may include demonstrations, visual stimuli, collaborative writing, various forms of discussion or problem-solving, etc. Active learning produces results by offering meaningful activities to goal-oriented students.
To summarize, active teaching is a totally different way of teaching. Although it takes more effort to do it well, the results are totally worth it.
The end of the slideshow?
According to Edgar Dale’s Learning Pyramid model, there are different levels of student acceptance. Based on the model, the retention rate of information when provided in the following manner is: lectures – 5%, reading – 10%, audio-visual – 20%, demonstrations – 30%, discussions – 50%, practice – 75%, and teaching others – 90%.*
Or, in other words, using more active methods of teaching results in higher student retention.
At one time PowerPoint was considered innovative, but now attitudes about it have changed. In the age of the e-learning boom, PPT is often criticized, yet it still remains a popular teaching method.
Contemporary online tutors sometimes prefer other platforms to create their training content. Some of these include interactive features such as quizzes and surveys that allow students to apply the material while they are learning it.
Despite its varied and innovative forms, the idea of the presentation is still the same – it is a piece of material placed in front of students. You show them – they learn it.
What to avoid
Your online presentations may be really nice, however, they are neither new nor thrilling for your students. If you don’t have the courage to part with PPT, then at least be sure to avoid some of the most annoying usages of the program.
They just don’t work, period. If you are lucky enough, your online students will read them. However, they won’t remember anything. Showing a slide with bullets means: now I will bore you all with the following dull facts. Try to involve your students more or your virtual classroom will soon fall asleep.
Long passages of text
As with bullets, long texts are tedious. Try to offer the e-learning content bite by bite. Make it juicy by filling it with examples. Moreover, engage and challenge the students to participate.
The more vivid and stimulating to the brain your presentation is, the more value you will add to your online training.
A lack of creativity and being overly creative
These are two sides to the same coin. A lack of creativity means no engagement. Without surprises, gamification, role-playing, or other emotional stimuli, the online students will accept your material as rocket science. On the other hand, too much creativity can also be a problem. You are not alone in the virtual classroom. Therefore, don’t try to be the brightest star there. Give your students the chance to show their knowledge and personality. As a result, they will follow your lead throughout the course.
Consider graphic design in all aspects or your course, not only when you are trying to brand your online course. Select the appropriate font for your presentation among the many that are available. And no, Comic Sans is not one of them. Font, just like any visual content, transmits a message. Therefore, make sure the message is the right one. Moreover, be sure it corresponds with your subject and your teaching style as a whole.
Alternative e-learning methods
Teaching effectively with technology is a challenge. However, one can always devote their time to search for methods that stimulate active learning.
Slides can be strategically used to show students the material, to integrate illustrations, and to present concepts. Visual content is more easily remembered.
Slideshows have their place in the contemporary e-learning picture. But they shouldn’t be the main method of instruction. Therefore, combine your presentation while engaging other senses, too, like sound.
Active learning takes many forms. If you choose to change the well-known presentation model, then go for one of the following:
This activity increases student engagement and group contribution in the virtual classroom. You can choose from class debates, group projects, peer-to-peer collaboration, etc. Collaborative active learning is best when solving an academic task or learning a new skill.
Problem and inquiry-based learning
This results in higher responsibility during the e-learning process and stimulates the students to make decisions based on discussions. These may include case study analyses, different projects, or other self-exploration activities.
Games and simulations
These activities simulate real-life situations and allow students to learn through experience. They also naturally encourage personal initiative. Moreover, they usually generate a very high level of motivation, engagement, and enthusiasm.