I just spent a bit longer than I would have liked helping someone fix a PowerPoint slide. To be fair, this wasn't her fault. While she's not exactly Tweeting with Ashton, but she's come a long ways and is holding her own quite handily with the tech. The problem, in fact, was two-fold:
- She was collaborating using Google Presentations; this isn't a bad thing in and of itself, but I'll explain shortly why this became a problem.
- One of the people with whom she was collaborating hadn't mastered the idea of bullets, much less reasonable formatting skills on a slide show.
I have to say that I was thrilled that she and her group were using Google Presentations for collaborating. That's the whole point and overall, it works quite well. Is it as polished as PowerPoint 2007? No, it isn't, but it's quite good. However, their ultimate deliverable for their doctoral class was a PowerPoint file. It was supposed to be turned in with specific formatting and the .ppt file format was required.
Google Presentations is quite capable of outputting PowerPoint files. However, Presentations files are really meant to live online. They can be edited there, viewed there, and shared there. Translating all of styles, HTML, etc., into a perfect PowerPoint file rarely goes as planned. This problem becomes much worse if the original Presentations document isn't formatted or built consistently. Something that several people have worked on may look tolerable presented from Google Docs, but looks downright bad in PowerPoint.
This brings us right to the second problem. PowerPoint is not rocket science. It's pretty freaking easy, to be honest. However, for someone who has only limited experience in its use (or in the preparation of presentations at all), it can be fairly daunting. Want to change indents? Just add some extra spaces, right? Not sure about titles and bullet text? Just mush everything together in a text box and add some returns and bold text.
For someone who just wants to get something done, this seems an expedient solution. However, anyone coming along to add to or modify the document, it's a nightmare.
I'll be writing about benchmarks for technology education this coming week. For right now, though, can we all agree that every teacher, administrator, and student over the age of 10 should know the fundamentals of creating a well-formed presentation, regardless of the software? Kudos to the woman I helped, though (you know who you are), for once again proving that technology does not need to be the domain of the Internet generation.