How PowerPoint is killing critical thought

Bored students is the least of it – the bullet point-ization of information is making us stupid and irresponsible

The genesis story runs like this: from the late 1950s corporations began to realise that, rather than going to the trouble of developing new products they hoped would meet a need, they could use marketeers to create the perception of need, then develop products to meet it (a shift brilliantly dramatised in the TV series Mad Men). To do this, different departments had to be able to speak to each other, to sell ideas internally. So while there had always been meetings, now there were meetings about meetings and – hey presto! – the modern world was born.

The presentational precursor to PowerPoint was the overhead projector, which is why PP screens are still called “slides”. The program owes most to Whitfield Diffie, one of the time lords of online cryptography, but it was quickly snapped up by Microsoft. Its coding/marketing roots are intrinsic to its cognitive style, being relentlessly linear and encouraging short, affirmative, jargonesque assertions: arguments that are resolved, untroubled by shades of grey.

It’s no coincidence that the two most famous PowerPoint presentations are: a) the one presented to Nasa managers by engineers, explaining with unarguable illogic why damaged tiles on the space shuttle Columbia were probably nothing to fret about; and b) General Colin Powell’s equally fuzzy pitch for war with Iraq. Now, blaming PowerPoint for Iraq would be a bit like blaming Darwin for Donald Trump, but the program made scrutiny of the case harder. Not for nothing did Brigadier General McMaster, of the US military, subsequently liken the proliferation of PP presentation in the military to an “internal threat”, saying: “It’s dangerous because it can create the illusion of understanding and the illusion of control. Some problems are not bullet-izable.

More on the topic in this blog:

maximise PowerPoint’s true potential.

Course content

  • An introduction to the principles of data visualisation
  • Storytelling with PowerPoint
  • How to design using PowerPoint
  • Creating compelling narratives
  • Practical exercise: create a sample slide using pen and paper
  • Tools and further reading
  • Q&A and group discussion




free, requires login with personal info

10 min of the presentation: “students are searching from devices”

this is why library instruction should slowly move from regular keyboarding exercises to utilization of mobile devices

James Hammons advocates for a mobile app geared toward accommodating students’ readiness to shift from large-screen search to smart phone search. The layout of the content being responsive to the screen size.

if the trend is to cater to students’ preference in using mobile devices, it is only logical to start gearing up to providing instruction and assistance using mobile devices.

Kathryn Silberger asserts (min 36 and forth) that the Library must let students know that it (the Library) is mobile friendly. How better to establish such feeling but by changing practices from big screen to hiding-behind-the-desktops students to gamified activities using mobile devices. Faculty have a “sticky influence” on student information habits.


first year experience: functional literacy

Digital (Re)Visions: Blending Pedagogical Strategies with Dynamic Classroom Tactics

I therefore approach that aspect of the FYW class with this baseline assumption: Most of the eighteen- to twenty-year-olds who attend The University of Arizona already communicate via digital technologies in various ways and can learn to use template-based applications with relative ease, especially if they are first given time during class to collaborate on penalty-free projects with select applications.

Beyond that initial experimentation with the capabilities and functionality of new technologies, what FYW students most need to learn in our limited time is a thing or two about conventions that span across many online publishing venues and multimodal genres (such as nonlinearity and linking) and basic design principles (such as visual organization, coherence, and impact). Also essential are multiple conversations about fair use, copyright, and other ethical concerns regarding representation of self, others, and ideas that students must consider when going public with their compositions. Such an approach builds on what Stuart Selber (2004) calls the “functional literacy” of digital technology that FYW students typically bring to these classes, challenging students to develop critical and rhetorical literacies and become questioners and producers of digital texts.

I ask my FYW students to translate their written public arguments (open letters; letters to editors, public figures, or organizations; opinion columns; perspective-forwarding creative nonfiction) into more visually and/or aurally oriented arguments (via Prezi or YouTube; through the creation of editorial cartoons, infographics, public service announcements or other multimodal texts). (For more information, see the assignment sheet

future of textbooks

Memento Mori: Why the Chegg IPO is Not About Textbooks

About 80% of the revenue still comes from renting textbooks, which might seem a bit outdated with everyone talking about tablet deployments and digital textbooks.

Though heavily funded and with more than 225,000 digital textbooks in its library, the startup was sold for pennies on a dollar to Intel Education last week.

With the Internet and tablet devices, publishers themselves can now go directly for the students through digital products. There is no need for physical bookstores or other middlemen to distribute the textbooks. Also professors are now able to sell their own textbooks directly to students.

This IPO is not so much about the current business of renting physical textbooks but about the time after paper-based textbooks. Chegg apparently does not see a future with publishers or professors by their side, and they will probably choose more direct sales channels in order to balance out sinking margins.

information literacy

“From Teaching to Consulting: Librarians as Information Literacy Designers. An Interview with Carrie Donovan” by Brian Mathews.  Posted to The Ubiquitous Librarian blog.

“Library instruction and information literacy is poised for a transformation that will be groundbreaking and inspiring.” (Donovan)  It was heartening to see that Donovan was troubled and inspired by Susanna Cowan’s “Information Literacy: The Battle We Won That We Lost?” (portal: Libraries and the Academy, 14(1):23-32; online at  “The question is not about information literacy’s validity. The question is whether we must cling to information literacy as a narrower concept and practice within educational (and now many other) institutions that rely, still, on librarians as key purveyors of this knowledge.” (Cowan)

“Something that has helped me [to begin to transition to a place where “I can leave behind my sense of ownership of information literacy”] was not to hang on to how I have done things in the past and to seek out new ideas and to consider all the options – even those that really challenge my way of thinking, my professional identity, and what I think I know to be true.” (Donovan)

“If we care about information literacy, let us be brave enough to let it go and find innovative ways to further the educational underpinnings of the concept without the bulky and perhaps untimely programmatic weight.” (Cowan)






Keith Ewing

Professor, Library Systems & Digital Projects

Google drive for interactive presentations

An Excellent Google Drive Tool for Creating Interactive Presentations

Pear Deck

Doceri – The Interactive Whiteboard for iPad.

Creating a Library App

Creating a Library App: Things to Know Before You Go Mobile
Tuesday, April 28, 2015 11AM-12PM PDT
Registration link:

Mobile apps are a popular topic in libraries. But what does it take to create one and what kind of programming can you do with apps? Is an app the right solution, or should you create a responsive website? What is the process like, and what resources are needed? How do you manage privacy, security, and legal concerns? Who do you need to get the job done, and what skills should they have?

These are all important questions that should be asked (and answered) before you think about creating a mobile app. Learn from expert panelists from libraries and nonprofits who have created, developed, and managed mobile apps for their organizations. Panelists will share practical advice and information based on experience, as well as helpful tools and resources.

Participants will learn:

  • The difference between a mobile app, a mobile site, and a responsive site
  • Three important considerations when deciding whether or not to create a mobile app.
  • Five tips for approaching the design of a mobile app, mobile site, or responsive site.

About the Presenters

  • Stacey Watson is the Senior Librarian and certified scrum Master in the Digital User Experience Department at the Denver Public Library.  She oversees the user experience and content strategy for the library’s websites, online catalog, and digital services. Most recently she and her team developed Volume, a responsive website featuring hand selected albums by local artists.
  • Anna Jaeger and her team at Caravan Studios create mobile apps that are designed in partnership with nonprofit and community-focused organizations to meet the needs of their constituents. Anna has been a frequent speaker on nonprofit and environmental technology since 2007. Prior to her work with Caravan Studios, Ms. Jaeger was a founder and co-director of TechSoup Global’s GreenTech initiative and the director of TechSoup Global’s IT Engineering department.
  • Ani Boyadjian has been a working librarian since 1990. An LAPL staffer since 1996, she is now Research & Special Collections Manager at the Los Angeles Public Library, where she also oversees the Library’s Digitization efforts. She most recently spearheaded the development of the ARchive LAPL app in a partnership with USC and app developers Neon Roots, to use augmented reality to tell stories about the historic Central Library.

information literacy and social media

library approach to information literacy. or WHAT IS information literacy?

is it the 90-ish notion of standing up in front of bored class and lecturing them how important is to use the online databases, which the university subscribe for

52% of teens use YouTube or other Social Media sites for a typical research assignment in school:

slide 29 out of 56:


Infographic from:

Should information literacy be about digital literacy? Geo-spatial knowledge?


Should information literacy include videos? Games?

Should information literacy be multiliteracy? Transliteracy?

This is what Gen Z will expect from information literacy in particular, from library and education in general: