Official: Powerpoint bad for brains
Menace of slideware
Anyone who's been a victim of "death by Powerpoint" - that glazed and distant feeling that overwhelms you when some sales droid starts their presentation - will be reassured by Aussie researchers who've discovered biological reasons for the feeling.
Humans just don't like absorbing information verbally and visually at the same time - one or the other is fine but not both simultaneously.
Researchers at the University of New South Wales in Australia found the brain is limited in the amount of information it can absorb - and presenting the same information in visual and verbal form - like reading from a typical Powerpoint slide - overloads this part of memory and makes absorbing information more difficult.
Professor Sweller said: "The use of the PowerPoint presentation has been a disaster. It should be ditched.
"It is effective to speak to a diagram, because it presents information in a different form. But it is not effective to speak the same words that are written, because it is putting too much load on the mind and decreases your ability to understand what is being presented."
The theory of "cognitive load theory" suggest the memory can deal with two or three tasks for a period of a few seconds - any more than that and information starts to get lost.
Professor John Sweller is not the first to question the overarching power of Powerpoint. Edward Tufte is a professor emeritus at Yale and an information and interface design expert. His 2003 book The Cognitive Style of Powerpoint: Pitching Out Corrupts Within makes similar claims. ®
Presentation is everything...
"My keynote presentations are full of the glamor which is apple, small bursts of text, some pretty pictures and me speaking the IMPORTANT information rather than having it onscreen, if it was all onscreen what would be the point in me being there, I could get a 5 year old to read off a screen, I'm there to show my perspective, understanding and most of all, fill in the gaps to the points which I have highlighted..."
Crikey, did you get a 5 year old to write that too, I nearly suffocated!! I can imagine your presentations would be a laugh!
Powerpoint bad for brains
So, maybe this is why Powerpoint is so popular with sales droids? They don't *want* our brains to be working well. Makes us ask those difficult questions, like "why should I buy this piece of cr*p?"
I've had quite a few teachers in college who just read from powerpoints and now I know why I get bored.
Basically, if I understand it correctly, your brain can't handle getting the same information at the same time from hearing and visual cues. So if a slide said "Monkeys are animals" and the presenter says "Monkeys are animals," your brain gets confused. Okay, that's probably an oversimplification, but it should get the point across. Powerpoint isn't the only cause, it's any slide presentation app, or actually anything that has visual and audio cues saying the same thing.