Slides kill interest levels.
Simon: We've been conditioned to think that a good slide deck, one
that captures the important points of the class, is the epitome of a well-crafted
learning experience. In fact, slides do several things that destroy the
The human brain is recalcitrant, carefully honed by
millennia for survival. It bores quickly at the predictable because it needs to
conserve its energies for dealing with unexpected threats. Slides ensure that
nothing unexpected ever happens in the classroom – nothing unexpected ever
happens kills interest, making it really hard for the learner to focus.
Brains love unanswered questions and challenges, as well
as a good story. Good instructors will use these tools to keep attention levels
on alert; however, following a slide deck means everyone already knows the
answers and the end of the story.
Slides force the
flow of the course.
Simon: This is the biggest reason I’m against using
slides. Within reason, allowing the flow to follow the questions of the
students increases the likelihood of retaining their attention.
Allowing students to begin discussions, rather than quashing
questions with a “We’ll get to that later”, helps encourage the spirit of
lively inquiry that makes a class interesting. A skilled instructor should be
able to guide the class with subtlety and nudging, occasionally shelving a
discussion for later. The instructor should ensure all necessary and relevant
topics are addressed, while keeping the distractions at a minimum.
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