Avoiding Death by PowerPoint: A Different Approach to Dissemination

At Tower Hamlets College in London, teachers have been carrying out Supported Experiments to enhance teaching and learning and I attended their dissemination event on July 11th 2013. For more information on the Supported Experiments model, please click here:


Case studies

The dissemination event format was interesting in itself. Several teachers presented the rationale, steps and findings from their experimental practice to the assembled staff (maximum 10 minutes) and were encouraged to do so without PP slides. Consequently, we were treated to a range of approaches to presentation – a micro teach of sentence building in tactile ways, with one person holding up each word card; a double act with one person speaking and the other holding up then throwing away large prompt cards; a video clip; informal chatting to the audience with handouts circulated. Then there was a Q&A slot with roving microphone for 5-10 minutes followed by a 5-10 minute slot for groups or pairs to discuss any thoughts arising from the experiment and identify any potential applications to their context at their tables.

There was plenty of thoughtful professional dialogue going on, some healthy challenges on occasion and generally an air of engagement and interest from the audience. The room layout  (tables set up cafe style for groups) fostered discussion and the ban on death by PowerPoint created a positively informal tone, which was a vast improvement on conference style events in which people sit in rows, passive and disconnected, being PPed into a trance state……

Some tips for running this kind of dissemination event would be:

1. Keep presentation slots short and sweet- 10 minutes seemed to be ideal, as it left people with an overview but with questions to ask as well

2. Encourage creative methods of presentation and an informal tone

3. Build a programme covering varied topics and levels, to maximise potential relevance for the audience

4. Think about microphone coverage – several roving microphones are useful in a big room

5. Use a facilitator to keep the event moving along briskly, with a clip on microphone, if the room is large

6. Build in slots for paired or table discussion, to allow people to engage and reflect together in active ways

7. Consider moving people around mid event to provide a range of peer discussion

8. At the end of the event, there could be a quiet reflection slot in which individuals think about what they are taking away from the event into their practice. Alternatively, curriculum teams could get together to reflect and action plan together

9. If the event can be filmed, you have some useful clips for your sharing good practice intranet site and these can be used in bite-sized CPD slots the next year as stimulus for discussion

This entry was posted in CPD, CPD for Teachers, FE, Geoff Petty, Sharing good practice, Supported Experiments, Teaching and learning, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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