Publisher PowerPoint: Teacher to Adopt or Adapt?

Book publishers render a handy service to the teaching community–gifting readymade PowerPoint that accompany textbooks adopted for the courses. While they render valuable help to busy teachers, it comes with a downside issue that require ironing out by teachers. Let’s explore the two options facing teachers viz., should I adopt or adapt these PowerPoint.

Why ‘adopt’ is not the preferred choice?

Publisher PowerPoint is not intentionally designed with the aim of engaging students in the learning process. They play a good role in capturing the key points and concepts to be covered in the classroom. While coverage is its strength, coverage by itself is inadequate to engage learners. No thoughtful teacher, you will agree, steps into the classroom presuming that coverage is the prime responsibility. Teaching is an art that demands more than information presenting or coverage. If, engaging student is the way to foster learning, outright adoption of publisher PowerPoints is not the best approach.

Why ‘adapt’ is a prudent option?

Teachers are constantly faced with the challenge of making sense of the content to be taught so that students gain a deeper understanding and are better equipped to apply the learning. This naturally calls for the teacher to reflect and figure out meaningful and innovative ways to teach the content that goes beyond the mundane task of covering the content using the publisher resource. The teacher, therefore, may opt the prudent option of adapting publisher PowerPoint by modifying, dropping, adding, and tweaking the content to meet the intended goal of learning. No doubt, this calls for investment of time and effort. The pay-off can be substantial.

Tricky issue of how to ‘adapt’

Chip and Dan Heath in ‘Made to Stick‘ propound 6 excellent principles using the acronym SUCCESs. Sticky Learning, in their view, is driven by Sticky Teaching. This happens when students are able to remember, understand, apply and change their behavior or opinion or value. In other words, adapting publisher provided PowerPoint is the best way to facilitate sticky learning. Try adapting using these 6 principles of SUCCESs.

The way forward?

What should teachers do? Ditch publisher PowerPoint? Not at all! They have value, though not to the extent desired by students and teachers. The motto: adapt not adopt  when embraced help personalize the publisher PowerPoint and put the interest of the students above everything–mark of a Great Teacher!