PowerPoint is a presentation tool that is simple for students to learn and use. The variety of pre-designed slide layouts are easy to fill in and encourage students to keep to simple statements to support their point. The ability to add sounds, motion, color and multimedia objects motivates students to learn more about technology and the software itself, too.
PowerPoint is also useful for guiding collaborative activities in the classroom. It can be prepared in advance for collaboration in the form of group work or individual research which will later be collected and shared. It also can be created to collect the results of small group brainstorming activities. In either case, it provides a technology component that can motivate students.
PowerPoint as a Collaboration Tool
Just as it is a powerful presentation tool, PowerPoint is a powerful collaboration tool. Students do not need to be familiar with how to create a presentation to use it; the technology skills required include clicking in the box and typing, which makes this a way to introduce PowerPoint to children as young as fourth or fifth grade.
One example of PowerPoints use for collaboration is for an online research project. The presentation can be created in advance by the teacher, including titles for each slide. The body of each slide would include a prompt for research followed by blank bullet lines. Students would go online, find information as prompted, then fill in each bullet with their answer or solution. This would be saved as a new file and turned in when finished.
Another example is for each student to receive a separate research prompt and a number representing their order for the presentation. Students then research the information and create one plain slide. Each slide is then copied in order into a master presentation created either by the teacher or a designated student. A theme can be applied before classroom viewing.
Using PowerPoint for Brainstorming
Another collaboration activity for PowerPoint is to collect the results of brainstorming sessions. Similar to a pre-created collaboration presentation, the slides would be created in advance with the titles as the thought or idea around which to brainstorm. Students would then, in small groups, enter their ideas into the body of the slide until instructed that time is up.
Alternatively, students could be provided with a simple presentation with only one slide containing the prompt. After the brainstorming session, students would create new slides with their recorded ideas arranged differently. For example, one slide might contain the ideas arranged from best to worst and the next from silliest to strangest.
Though best known for its presentation abilities, PowerPoint has a variety of alternative classroom uses. Its simplicity makes it ideal for providing a convenient technology component for collaboration and a useful tool for brainstorming sessions.