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Why Not Slideware?

Slideware is any program designed to create and view digital slideshows. Much like Kleenex and facial tissue, Microsoft PowerPoint has become synonymous with these programs. However, many programs can be used to create digital slideshows, including OpenOffice.org Impress External (free) and Adobe Flash External.

I prefer to create in a web editor (e.g., Dreamweaver External), present in a web browser (e.g., Chrome External), and use CSS External to format. I don't like slideware, because:

  1. Content is usually locked into a proprietary file format. For example, you need PowerPoint to edit a PowerPoint slideshow. And you need PowerPoint, or at least PowerPoint Viewer External, to view PowerPoint slideshows. Slideshows created in newer versions of the full program are incompatible with older versions.
  2. It can be expensive: PowerPoint is $149.99 on 19 Jun 2010 as part of Office, from Microsoft External.
  3. Educational technologists spent/spend too much capital (financial, political, cultural) urging instructors to use slideware, when other technologies do more to empower instructors and students (e.g., web publishing).
  4. Slideware doesn't necessarily change the nature of instruction: the instructor talks, the students listen.
  5. It preserves an archaic metaphor: posterboard on an easel.
  6. It's not a web browser, so hyperlinks launch a separate program in a separate window.
  7. While PowerPoint shows can be exported to the web, they are not fully compatible with non-Windows operating systems and non-Explorer web browsers.
  8. Users are forced to think and present in slide-sized chunks of information. See "PowerPoint Is Evil" External (Tufte, 2003).
  9. Users create bad slideshows: too much text on a slide, too small or crammed in, irrelevant images, unappealing or unreadable color schemes, etc. Most web browsers gives their users the ability to zoom in or out, turn off images, and other solutions when the medium is interfering with the message.

The smallest good deed is better than the grandest good intention. -Duguet (more quotes)

Created by Kym Buchanan | http://KymBuchanan.org | This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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Some content and curriculum based on work by: Maysee Herr, Rand Spiro, Lisa Bardon, Quinn Stanley, Larry Riggs, Pat Shaw, Sue Slick, and others at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point. Unattributed images are the work of the author or taken from Microsoft PowerPoint.

Last revised 6/28/16