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Using PowerPoint to teach the American Government Survey Course
Unformatted Document Text:  course boring and dull. That is the challenge of using PowerPoint in the classroom. It was precisely that challenge which made me give up my tried-and-true method of teaching. I was nearing retirement and there was no real incentive for me to change except for the intellectual challenge to devise a more effective teaching method. As a community college professor, I had taught only the basic survey courses, essentially America Government, semester after semester, year after year. I needed something to “jump-start” those last few years and “PowerPoint-izing” my courses did that. The first question which presented itself was where to begin? As a reluctant and closet computer Luddite, I had converted all of my lectures to word documents, first on an Apple, then on a MacIntosh, and eventually, on a PC using Microsoft word. It would be easy, I was told by my colleagues in Information Technology and Computer Science, to transfer them to PowerPoint; all I needed to do was to take a few training session in using PowerPoint. Some even suggested that I could get everything I needed by reading PowerPoint for Dummies; I had hoped for a book at a lower level of computer expertise but none was available. After undergoing several hours of training and reading the book, I can say that what worked for me was actually doing a presentation or on-the-task experimentation. Before tackling this task on my own, I decided to see what was already available. Over my career, I have used a number of basic American Government texts. I have a standard policy of switching every five years because I become Page 4

Authors: Clowers, Myles.
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course boring and dull. That is the challenge of using PowerPoint in the
classroom.
It was precisely that challenge which made me give up my tried-and-true
method of teaching. I was nearing retirement and there was no real incentive for
me to change except for the intellectual challenge to devise a more effective
teaching method. As a community college professor, I had taught only the basic
survey courses, essentially America Government, semester after semester, year
after year. I needed something to “jump-start” those last few years and
“PowerPoint-izing” my courses did that.
The first question which presented itself was where to begin? As a
reluctant and closet computer Luddite, I had converted all of my lectures to word
documents, first on an Apple, then on a MacIntosh, and eventually, on a PC
using Microsoft word. It would be easy, I was told by my colleagues in
Information Technology and Computer Science, to transfer them to PowerPoint;
all I needed to do was to take a few training session in using PowerPoint. Some
even suggested that I could get everything I needed by reading PowerPoint for
Dummies; I had hoped for a book at a lower level of computer expertise but none
was available. After undergoing several hours of training and reading the book, I
can say that what worked for me was actually doing a presentation or on-the-task
experimentation.
Before tackling this task on my own, I decided to see what was already
available. Over my career, I have used a number of basic American Government
texts. I have a standard policy of switching every five years because I become
Page 4


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