February 27, 2023: Avoid Death by Powerpoint! Take your presentations to the next-level with the power of storytelling using digital resources.

Today’s post is dedicated to playfully shunning one of the most used digital tools for student learning in modern times: PowerPoint! A software that has become essential to teaching. At some point in our classes, we may find ourselves sitting down in a darkened room, looking at a large white screen, waiting for some technical difficulties to be solved, squinting our eyes to understand the small words, taking weird pictures of the screen as slide after slide pass by, making it impossible for you to read everything and pay attention at the same time. This week in the mentoring circle, we learn how to avoid this monotone global phenomenon that deeply impacts the field of education – start by watching below a TED Talk by David JP Phillips, a communications expert who is helping people avoid: Death By PowerPoint!

David JP Phillips is the author of the book “How To Avoid Death By PowerPoint”. He makes a point of reminding us that we are the presentation, the application is just a visual aid. Death by PowerPoint is caused by the poor use of presentation skills with digital software. Microsoft PowerPoint is the world’s most installed presentation application, and some figures suggest there may be up to 30 million PowerPoint presentations created every day. As a recurring teaching tool that has become essential to learning, David JP Phillips has spent years studying these presentations, through western science he proved something Indigenous peoples have known for millennia, the power of storytelling as a teaching tool! In the following TED Talk he shares key neurological findings on storytelling and with the help of his own stories, induces in us the release of neurotransmitters just by listening.

Storytelling is powerful! With stories, we can make our message come across better. We can find things in common by sharing our passions, hardships, embarrassments, joys, griefs and life experiences. Through storytelling, the audience remains emotionally connected to the content that is being presented and therefore a big opportunity for learning occurs. Death by PowerPoint can be avoided if the speaker uses technology as a visual aid to enhance the story being told. Through the power of stories, tai simpson, “The Storyteller” (in the Indigenous language of the Nimiipuu Nation) from the Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho, works for anti-racism education, community organizing and social justice. In the following TED talk, she advocates for a return to Indigenous wisdom that emphasizes balance, community and the importance of intergenerational storytelling in order to protect what’s sacred.

Technology can be a powerful aid when presenting stories. The multimedia aspect of digital tools increases student engagement and opens the presentation to diverse forms of learning. One of my favourite digital tools that combines technology with storytelling is Powtoon. Born from the need to communicate a message without putting your audience to sleep, Powtoon is a user-friendly animation software that helps you create engaging, animated videos with a professional look and feel. Bring a touch of awesomeness to your presentations whether you’re teaching a class, presenting at a conference or for academic projects- just Powtoon it. The digital tool is designed to allow educators and students to create content that is fun to make, fun to watch and gets your class hooked on your presentation. If you are looking to learn more, you can read 11 Quick & Amazing Ways to Use Powtoon in Your Classroom.

UBC’s Learning Technology Hub also provides another incredible digital tool called: VideoScribe. An animation software that allows instructors to create animation videos on a virtual whiteboard. Instructors can choose from an extensive library of shapes, images and text fonts, customize the animations, and add voiceovers and soundtracks. To get started please use this form to request a VideoScribe license. Licenses are available to all UBC Students. Support is provided by the Learning Technology Hub and assisted by members of the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Media Learning Community and industry experts from UBC Studios. Additional expertise is available during regular DIY help sessions, you can drop-in at their scheduled times.

The happy medium between boring presentations and awesome engaging videos is Prezi. A presentation software with more than 100 million users who had created millions of public presentations. It lets you create zooming, moving, visually stunning presentations that grab and keep your students’ attention, in any subject you teach. You don’t need to start from scratch, you can jumpstart with quick, simple templates to create the most effective presentations. There are millions of shared Prezi presentations out there, creating a wonderful digital community of shared information. Find one you like and repurpose it with your own content. You can use visuals and movement to jump freely from topic to topic, focusing on the material you want to cover. Prezi has a unique format that lets you show the whole context, displaying relationships between your ideas to tell the best story. In the following video learn how to create an excellent Prezi presentation with 5 tips to persuade your audience.