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There’s a famous quote, attributed to the Jesuits, that says: “Give me the child until he is seven and I will show you the man.” The idea being, of course, that ideas introduced to children early on are likely to stay with them for life.
The Jesuits have been around a lot longer than PowerPoint, but it could be that a similar idea is gathering pace for the well-known program. PowerPoint, it must be said, is usually associated with adults. Many children will never have heard of it. But there’s really no reason for this.
When you think about it, PowerPoint was designed to make presentations as easy – and as lively – as possible. These days, children are being introduced to computers younger than ever before, and as anyone who’s watched a five-year-old using a mouse and a keyboard will know, they take to them like ducks to water. So if computers, why not PowerPoint?
This question was part of the thinking behind the Reading Adventure Camp, put on by the University of Central Florida’s College of Education recently. UCF is the fifth-biggest university in the USA, and is associated with innovative projects.
The reading camp focused on literacy and digital storytelling for elementary readers. This involved sixteen students, some as young as eight years old, creating several of their own stories on PowerPoint. Many of them had never used the program before – but that certainly didn’t stop them embracing its possibilities.
Students looked at several examples before they started writing out their own story. Taylar Clements, a visiting instructor of elementary education at UCF, commented: “They planned everything out. Their creativity does tend to run wild, and we wanted to make sure it was focused and organised for their story.”
And Tanja Bock, a junior elementary education major, said, “I wasn’t familiar with digital storytelling, so learning how to do it was extremely helpful. To know that you can use that in your classroom is pretty good.”
The camp was very popular with the children, who clearly found that the digital element helped bring their stories alive.
If this trend continues, we could start to see youngsters taking to PowerPoint earlier in their lives – which can only be a good thing. After all, PowerPoint is so powerful that it’s limited only by our imagination. And as Clements noted, imagination tends to be pretty free ranging in eight-year-olds.
The use of PowerPoint in education is not a new one. Our editor introduced it to his kids when they were between 5 and 8. https://www.presentationmagazine.com/kids_activity.htm and Microsoft has been putting a lot of focus into schools
The next thing we know, children will be mastering the intricacies of PowerPoint a lot better than we adults do. Which reminds me of another quote, spoken by Groucho Marx in Duck Soup: “Why, a four-year-old child could understand this. Run out and get me a four-year-old child, I can’t make head or tail out of it.”
By David Vickery