Relocating text

This post is designed to deal with one of the biggest concerns colleagues express about a visual method that appears to sideline, or balance, text delivery. Many people assume that a visual method means that text is removed, but this isn’t the case. PowerPoint is an excellent, well-understood and easy to use platform capable of multimedia delivery and storage and this is the case with the method of visual delivery derived from MML theory.

MML by Richard MayerWe are accustomed to using this platform to deliver text primarily, with images as occasional appendages rather than pedagogic media channels in their own right. Some go as far as to say that digital delivery platforms of today are primarily used in the same way that chalkboards and OHPs were in the past, as document delivery systems. Tom Schrand calls the use of such platforms ‘shovelware’. I have referred to this in a little more detail here.  But if MML is not about eliminating text, the most obvious question is, ‘what happens to it?’ There are 2 answers to this.

In the first instance, we can keep a limited amount of text on our slides, over the image. This might be a title, or a prompt, or whatever you wish. But it shouldn’t be presented in a way that conceals the image, or there’d be no point in having the image. I try to stick to a simple rule – no more than 1 line at 28 point font, and I highlight the text with a semi-opaque black fill (covered elsewhere in this blog post series).  But this doesn’t really cover what many academics are most concerned with. If we are encouraged to ‘feed’ students course information as a result of neoliberal universities participating in ever more comprehensive and Darwinian ranking metrics, we can put as much as we ever put on the slides, in the ‘Notes View’ section of PPT.

Here, I have included a lengthy quote connected with the image I chose for the slide. In addition, I have copied in lorem text to show how much more space there is for your preferred. ‘Notes View’ appears when you grab the horizontal bar beneath the slide and lift it. We can give students as much or as little text as we want to, and have imagery do some of the pedagogic work for us. We don’t need to create extra documents; as long as we make the PPT file available, our students can have a genuine multimedia learning experience. Since both VLE’s and lecture capture are increasingly adopted in UK and US HE, we have the right platforms to host those files.