How to use PowerPoint to support learning

Some guidelines for the best and most appropriate uses of PowerPoint. Good practice suggests that PowerPoint is used to structure the session to encourage student learning and that the slides need to be a mixture of subject content and learning activities.

When do you give the slides to students?

Making your PowerPoint slides available before the session improves student engagement and research shows that this does not generally affect attendance. Advance availability of PowerPoint slides should enable your students to prepare, provide a framework for notes, allow time for more interesting learning activities, and thus make the learning session more productive

Use of images, media and web sites

By including a variety of media in a PowerPoint slide show, video, images, animations, diagrams, tables etc. a presentation can be made more engaging and assist with the needs of those with different learning styles. Links to web sites can be effective and easy to use.

Use carefully selected copyright free images to enhance meaning and web links to relevant sites. You could also link to WOLF and PebblePad to demonstrate useful learning tasks and materials therein.

Effective PowerPoint slide structure

PowerPoint is a presentational tool to structure a learning session, and not a place to house notes.

  • As a very general rule allow approximately 5 minutes per content/subject matter slide.
  • A learning activity, and thus the accompanying slide with the task instructions on, should ideally be used to engage learners at 15 to 20 minute intervals. This accounts for listening attention spans.
  • Many teachers use one learning activity per 5 slides and 6 bullet points per slide is usually enough.
  • Using 20 point font and dark text on a light background promotes clarity. Keep your bullet points to the minimum of words and bring in one bullet point at a time to focus student attention.

Further Resources

These tips are adapted from the best practice guide for the use of PowerPoint please download the document for a more complete overview.