Friday, March 07, 2014

Physics Talk With No Powerpoint Slides?

Oh, say it isn't so!

In an effort to get a better interaction between speaker and audience, organizers at a biweekly forum on the LHC at Fermilab banned the use of any Powerpoint presentation by the speaker.

“Without slides, the participants go further off-script, with more interaction and curiosity,” says Andrew Askew, an assistant professor of physics at Florida State University and a co-organizer of the forum. “We wanted to draw out the importance of the audience.”

In one recent meeting, physics professor John Paul Chou of Rutgers University (pictured above) presented to a full room holding a single page of handwritten notes and a marker. The talk became more dialogue than monologue as members of the audience, freed from their usual need to follow a series of information-stuffed slides flying by at top speed, managed to interrupt with questions and comments.
It is definitely a development and a change that I find interesting and support... so some extent. You see, something like this will be amazingly fun and useful IF the speaker is engaging and actually pays attention to the audience. I'm sure you've been in seminars (or even a class) where the speaker simply rambled on and on looking at the screen, without even looking behind him/her to see if the audience was even there! So how well something like this goes depends very much on the speaker.

Still, not having the powerpoint slides will force these speakers to be more creative and inevitably, will create a less formal atmosphere during such a presentation. And from the report, having more of a dialog than a monolog is exactly what the organizers were trying to accomplish.

It is interesting to note that while these physicists are going back to the "primitive" form of communication, others in the education field are trying various technologies and techniques to get away from the primitive form of teaching. It is now almost common that college lecturers use Powerpoint in their lectures, and other forms of teaching techniques and technologies are being used in the classrooms. Yet, at the top, we go back to chalkboard/whiteboard to communicate.


No comments: