Thursday, April 14, 2011

Teaching Workshop

Some advice from the ranks:

If you're doing a workshop on teaching, and using a powerpoint, don't make the words float in.

If you're doing a workshop on making things accessible for disabled folks, don't make everyone do a form where they have to fill in tiny bubbles.

If you're doing a workshop on making things accessible for disabled folks, don't keep the lights turned down way low when you're asking them to fill out the form with tiny bubbles.


So, here's a conundrum:

If you do a presentation using powerpoint, usually reading your powerpoint slide aloud is a crappy and irritating technique.

BUT, if you're trying to make your slide accessible to people with seeing difficulties, then reading your slide aloud may be helpful.


There's something absolutely crappy about using a ton of paper (okay, I exaggerate, a pile, though) to copy all your slides so that people can take notes next to the slides when you're pretty much reading the slides aloud. How do you balance your desire to have people take notes about what you've just read aloud with your ethical responsbility not to waste resources?


Can you tell I hated this workshop? It's sad, too, because I really think making our campus more welcoming (which is beyond basic accessibility or accomodation) is important, but I left this workshop wanting to never hear anyone talk about these issues again. I learnd a few basic terminology things, but nothing that's really going to help me as either an instructor or a community member.


  1. Ha! I have been to such workshops. I'm sorry you had this experience.

    I will say that your understanding is likely more advanced than that of many faculty, so although you didn't get anything out of it, it might have been useful to others. I've been amazed at the lack of understanding on the part of some faculty.

    For example, a year ago I organized a workshop for faculty on disabilities and teaching, and our main presenter--a woman who is both a disabilities scholar and blind herself--offered to answer any questions, no matter how politically incorrect. So we had faculty pass forward their questions on index cards. One of the cards asked, "Where's the line between learning disabilities and low IQ?"


  2. Your experience sounds a lot like the crapola PowerPoint presentations I saw in the late 1990s, when people at my former university thought PowerPoint was the *coolest invention evah*. It was clear to me that all of the redundancy--slides, handouts of the printed slides, and just reading aloud from the slides--was a complete waste of my time and a really dumb way to use the technology.

    If you're going to just read the slides, then just send me the PowerPoint presentation in an e-mail attachment. Don't insult my intelligence and waste my time by assuming that you need to read everything out loud.

  3. I hate those powerpoint "notes" handouts. Not only is it a phenomenal waste of paper, but there's something really arrogant about it; to me, it says, "You will want to take notes on EVERY SINGLE SLIDE I HAVE PUT TOGETHER! It is all VERY IMPORTANT!!"

    Okay, maybe that's just me. But dude, most ppts I've seen are pretty damn trivial, and I don't need a timeless memorial of every single bullet you thought to drop in.