The Video Generation and PowerPoint PresentationsSome food for thought from the December 24/31 issue of The New Yorker:
In a study published this year, experimenters varied the way that people took in a PowerPoint presentation about the country of Mali. Those who were allowed to read silently were more likely to agree with the statement "The presentation was interesting," and those who read along with an audiovisual commentary were more likely to agree with the statement "I did not learn anything from the presentation." The silent readers remembered more, too, a finding in line with a series of British studies in which people who read transcripts of television newscasts, political programs, advertisements, and science shows recalled more information than those who had watched the shows themselves.1 Caleb Crain, "Twilight of the Books"
1 The study Crain references at the beginning of the quoted passage is "The Effect of the Modality of Presentation of Streaming Multimedia on Information Acquisition," by Steven C. Rockwell and Loy A. Singleton (Media Psychology, Vol. 9, No. 1, 2007). Abstract: "The proliferation of fast computer systems and high-speed Internet connections allows for the increasingly practical delivery of streaming audio and video in educational or informational presentations. Many proponents of this technology advocate its use citing that it is more media-rich, and therefore more engaging than less rich forms. This study sought to determine how different modalities of presentation (text-only, text-audio, and text-audio-video) impacted information acquisition from a PowerPoint presentation. One hundred thirty two participants were placed into one of three presentation modes. After viewing the presentation, their level of information acquisition was assessed. Results indicate that participants in the more media rich groups acquired less information from the presentation. These results challenge anecdotal reports regarding the effectiveness of media-rich presentations." Note that the subjects of the study would appear to have been people with a sufficiently high level of literacy to absorb the meaning of the text they were reading.