This past year I began uploading some of my powerpoints to Slideshare.net as a way to embed them onto the class wiki. I could have simply saved them as a PDF file and uploaded that to the wiki but I prefer the look and feel of the embedded presentation. The last one I made for the Philosophy for Teens class that finished in January is what I've posted here. After listening to one of my favorite podcasts (CBC Ideas) where Paul Kennedy tackled the age old questions of the role of reason and awe in understanding the fullness of human experience, I decided to try something new. What if I gleen the essential points and questions of the (audio) podcast and represent them with images? Perhaps I might be able to walk the students through the essence of this very old debate by concentrating these 'big' ideas into pictures that they could understand.
Well I tried it and I think it's not half bad. The next time I teach that class, I'll change some of the slides to make it even more visually appealing. I'll also leave out a few ideas (this is where I saw some glassy eyes) and restrict myself to the simplist part of the 'debate'. I had the actual podcast play at the same time as I advanced the slides but this was not effective. I should have trusted my capacity to be a better 'translator of BIG ideas' and simply explained the debate with the pictures.
Teaching with the visual aid is no longer a choice; it's essential. There are plenty of ways to include the visual element in our teaching and embedding a powerpoint on the wiki is an excellent one. Not only do the students have access to the material presented in class 24/7, but if you've shared through slideshare (or slidefinder) you've also invited others into your classroom. In 2009 I posted 8 powerpoints and received 477 views with an average of 60 each! Some of those people may have been students looking for material or teachers hoping to find something to support a lesson. Why re-invent the wheel? There is an unbelievable amount of rich and exciting resources out there in web 2.0 land and I'm thrilled to be able to contribute. I encourage you to do the same.