Teaching PowerPoint skills to students

As part of the ICT PLT Sheridyn has been working with PowerPoint and trying to improve the quality of her students’ presentations when using this tool. Her approach was to spend some time before the assignment where the students would be creating a PP covering some of the basics of the program with her Year 7 students. They discussed the qualities of a good PowerPoint presentation and those of a bad presentation. Sheridyn also reinforced this with several videos sourced from YouTube that cover some PP dos and don’ts.

Sheridyn’s resources

A short video with music.

This is a longer one with in-depth comment about mistakes.

She also shares with her students an excellent example of an excellent PowerPoint presentation which you can see here.

My own preachy editorialising – How to Teach PowerPoint

As with all technology (and everything really), when teaching PowerPoint it is important to remember that your students will come to you with different abilities. It is crucial that you don’t assume that they will all have excellent skills already. How you plan around this is up to you but you should aim to provide all of your students with a basic level of knowledge.

One way to do this is to put the skills you want them to have at the end of the assignment in the assessment criteria. When you cover the criteria as you are introducing the assignment you can then invite the students to investigate areas that they don’t understand yet. In this way, if a student puts his hand up and asks how to add custom animation to a slide you can direct him to a video that explains it, pair him up with a student who already knows how to do this or show him how it is done yourself.

There’s more to it than that

Of course, there aren’t any hard and fast rules about how to create a good PowerPoint and how to create a bad one. The quality of a presentation depends on how the tool has been used and how much effort has gone into it.

Make sure that the medium suits the message. If you are creating a PowerPoint to impart a message on its own (i.e. without an accompanying oral presentation) that will be viewed on a PC by one user then you will need to put a great deal of information on each slide and the text will, by necessity, be smaller. If, on the other hand you are  making an oral presentation to a class and using the PP to keep your audience on track while you deliver it, each slide will have much less writing on it and it will be in a bigger font. Similarly, if you are trying to get people revved up about your topic, playing The Final Countdown by Europe might be appropriate whereas Cyprus Hill rarely would be.


For examples of good PowerPoint you need go no further than Kerri Batch’s presentations from our staff meetings. If you were teaching PowerPoint you could do worse than to get Kerri to come in and show your students the most exciting thing that she has worked out recently.

Furthermore, there are examples of good PowerPoints in the resources that Sheridyn shared above.

The internet is also littered with examples of bad PowerPoint presentations. Here is a particularly fun and uninspiring one.

Lead by example

Of course, there is nothing better than leading by example when it comes to PowerPoint. Make sure that the PowerPoints you show the students reflect what you expect from them in theirs. If you want them to use images correctly, make sure the images you use are sourced from copyright free sources (our students shouldn’t be seeing or showing watermarked photos) and are of a high enough quality that they don’t go all fuzzy when you put them on the big screen.

Copyright issues

If your students create a really great PowerPoint they may wish to share it online. To do so they have to make sure that their PowerPoints do not contain materials that are protectex from copyright. In practical terms, this means taking their own photos to use, sourcing music from creative commons sources (you can get photos from here too) and attributing quotes correctly.


About timthelibrarian

Tim Harwood is a Teacher Librarian and eLearning enthusiast.
This entry was posted in PLT, PowerPoint. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Teaching PowerPoint skills to students

  1. Pingback: ICT PLT posts | Tim the Librarian

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s