More than forty years ago, presentations were conducted by organizing speech and drawing schemes and pictures on blackboards or on large sheets of paper. Further development of these approaches to delivering information refers to the emergence of overhead projections that premise on mechanically typeset slides and flipcharts that were effective as well (Craig and Amernic, 2006). Slide presentation software has become an integral part of a learning setting that is specifically used for large courses directed at information exchange rather than at skills advancement.
Nevertheless, presentation is regarded as an effective tool for explaining and outlining the main themes and frameworks by means of illustrations, graphs, charts, and thesis statements (Craig and Amernic, 2006). This device has allowed both teachers and students to process information and present it to the audience in an effective manner. From a sociological perspective, technology should be controlled by humans and serve as an amplifier of human abilities and skills. In this particular case, instrumentalism, critical, and social construction of technology shape the basis of technological progress. Specifically, PowerPoint Presentation is considered as a socially constructed entity whose role is confined to using technological tools for enhancing educational activities.
Social History of PowerPoint Presentation
The emergence of slide presentation software is predetermined by shifts in views on public speech, as well as on the tools that can enhance the effectiveness of presentation. It is not surprising that the development of PowerPoint presentation received feedback in many spheres of social activities, including education. Craig and Amernic (2006) have provided multiple research studies that criticize the use of the software because it does not contribute to public speaking and has detrimental outcomes for promoting dialogue and interaction.
However, the scholars withdraw the idea that these side effects directly relate to the use of PowerPoint Presentation; rather, the challenges premise solely on inappropriate use of technology. According to Craig and Amernic (2006), PowerPoint Presentation is considered “…another dominating, socially forceful technological mediator of teaching” (p. 148). More importantly, the software has emerged as the necessity to recognize new modes of communication that call for alternative patterns in thinking and socializing. Therefore, slide projection is a unique mixture of social media technology and personal communication skills that reflect the changes to educational approaches.
Invention of the new software and its application for pedagogical purpose has become the focus of the current events. Specifically, some of the scholars insist that PowerPoint presentation does not contribute to the learning process because it simplifies information exchange and does not allow students to develop logic and critical thinking. These social underpinning are predetermined by long existence of old-fashioned clichés about the structure and organization of a learning process before the emergence of the software. At this point, Yen-Shou et al. (2011) have conducted their own studies to find the positive correlation between the introduction of PowerPoint and pedagogy.
In particular, the researchers explain that the main purpose of multimedia learning devices lies in presenting visual information because it successfully enhance students’ perception of the course material. According to Yen-Shou et al. (2011), “PowerPoint in a lecture has shown that it can improve the note-taking ability of students they study the teaching materials” (p. 43). It is also effective for motivating students to self-fulfillment and professional growth. Further advancement of multimedia devices provides new directions for developing software and creating new applications.
The effectiveness of PowerPoint Presentation does not depend solely on functionality and availability of options that the speaker can use. Rather, it relies on the speaker’s creativity and approaches that he/she employs to establish communication and information exchange with the audience (Craig and Amernic, 2006). Interactive flexibility is also typical of this software because it relates to the way the speaker applies this technology in various socio-cultural settings. In fact, sociological perspective has deep historical and cultural underpinnings for integrating multimedia learning and developing new mode of communication. Ruokamo and Pohjolainen (2000) underscore the fact that the main requirements to a learning process have been projected on the new tools and devices included into an academic setting. Previously designed for conducting meetings and conferences, slide presentations have become an integral part of communicating various messages in classroom learning. In addition, computer-based learning environment contributes greater to developing a person-centered approach in studies. In other words, PowerPoint presentation created by an individual also stimulates students to develop their own schemes and mechanisms for presenting and structuring information.
Theoretical Foundations Explaining the Emergence of PowerPoint Presentation
A moral aspect of technology studies has recently referred to the social construction of technology (SCOT) theory whose supporters agree that technological systems are socially predetermined. At this point, SCOT theory implies that the invention of new technological devices has become the precursors of technological change. Various social constructs in which technology is applied promotes transformation of information exchange and social interaction between instructors and their students. Thus, the emergence of computers, television, and radio has a highly transformative nature leading to development of new solutions and approaches in a learning process.
According to Jones and Bissell (2011), “through interpretative flexibility, what makes a piece of technology educational is not necessarily inherent in the design of the technology; it might instead be a question o usage” (p. 287). Although presentations were not initially meant for educational purposes, their principal application has been reconsidered across time to advance educational sphere and support the new framework of learning experience. In other words, the SCOT theory postulates that software tools are designed for promoting students’ understanding through building new means of comprehension of activities in which they are engaged.
Knowledge is the product of a range of activities in which students are involved. At this point, applying PowerPoint Presentations in classrooms creates new experiences and skills that can later be employed for addressing new material. Development of new skills through technology integration fosters new dimension of social influence because new educational opportunities are open in front of students. At this point, social environment is a driving force for advancing technological tools, which correlates with technological determinism. Oliver (2011) focuses on four theoretical underpinnings – activity theory, actor-network theory, SCOT perspective, and community of practice theory to demonstrate that social environment posits technology into a new dimension.
More importantly, building alternative visions of technology can explain its significance for learning, which shapes the framework of technological determinism. PowerPoint has been created to empower the knowledge presentation and information exchange between the speaker and the audience. In case technology has a social influence, much consideration should be taken in terms of morality and power. These issues are discussed in the context of technology and education and form an integral component of critical theory. Under these circumstances, “technology is assumed to have the power to determine choices” (p. 375). Focusing on positive aspects of technological change creates new solution in education. Therefore, invention of slide presentation software is a step forward toward visual representation of information.
In the context of sociology, historical perspective is vital for understanding technological change and its influence on society. A framework of techno-historical interplay, therefore, defines economic, political, and social preconditions of development and application of new technological tools into education that is embedded into historical development of humankind in general (Hallström & Gyberg, 2011). Hence, external and internal influences should be taken into consideration to define the prerequisites of new technological advances in a learning sphere.
For instance, geographic factor has made people think over alternative system that would allow students all over the world to study in international universities and obtain degree without crossing the boundaries of their country. As a result, the emergence of the Internet has developed new initiatives that solve the problem through developing distant education. Indeed, the construction of knowledge through social networking has triggered computer-mediated environment and interactive models of socialization (Saritas, 2008). Therefore, looking from social perspective, technology cannot be considered solely from engineering or innovation perspective because it directly relates to social change.
With regard to the above-presented social theories of technology integration, it should be stressed that both technologically determined perspective and social focus are closely interrelated because they provide a new insight into improvement of educational techniques. Both social construct of technology and activity theory are applicable to the case because they explain the actual role of technological discoveries.
Craig, R., & Amernic, J. (2006). PowerPoint Presentation Technology and the Dynamics of Teaching. Innovative Higher Education, 31(3), 147-160
Hallström, J., & Gyberg, P. (2011). Technology in the rear-view mirror: how to better incorporate the history of technology into technology education. International Journal Of Technology & Design Education, 21(1), 3-17
Jones, A., & Bissell, C. (2011). The social construction of educational technology through the use of authentic software tools. Research In Learning Technology, 19(3), 285-297.
Oliver, M. M. (2011). Technological determinism in educational technology research: some alternative ways of thinking about the relationship between learning and technology. Journal Of Computer Assisted Learning, 27(5), 373-384.
Ruokamo, H., & Pohjolainen, S. (2000). Distance learning in a multimedia networks project: main results. British Journal Of Educational Technology, 31(2), 117.
Saritas, T. (2008). The Construction of Knowledge Through Social Interaction Via Computer-Mediated Communication. Quarterly Review Of Distance Education, 9(1), 35-49.
Yen-Shou, L., Hung-Hsu, T., & Pao-Ta, Y. (2011). Integrating Annotations into a Dual-slide PowerPoint Presentation for Classroom Learning. Journal Of Educational Technology & Society, 14(2), 43-57.