Monday, 1 November 2021

PowerPoint and the Business School lecturer

Coming, as I do, from a business school background, I was quite struck by an article I read on the Times Higher Education online earlier this year. In fact, I suspect that I may have stewed on it a bit.

You see, the tone in the article rankled. The article was about lecturing, and how some lecturers are better than others. This lecturer was of the school whereby you stand and deliver in a one-hour oratory. I think this is the type of lecturer the writer is, because he said, rather gob-smackingly, "Although I cannot imagine giving a PowerPoint lecture" (Sugg, 2021); crikey! In reading this, I felt that we poor plebs who use PowerPoint to season our delivery should just push off home then, tugging our forelocks at the master lecturer.

Down here in the dirty boots brigade, we do not have the luxury of a one hour lecture. We get one three hour slot each week, in one chunk. We lecture, workshop, and have Q&A for three times as long as Mr Sugg - Professor Sugg probably. We do not 'stand and deliver'. We interact with our students. We engage them. We encourage students to ask questions, and we ask questions of them; and collectively, we have a conversation, and we learn together. 

When I write a PowerPoint presentation, I follow Tufte's rule of no more than 40 words per slide at 24pt minimum (2003). Ideally, four short, short bullet points; or even better, one image. PowerPoints are not our script: they are only the slide. The script is in the notes area with all the citations and evidence. And the slide deck is there to anchor the key points being made, to make learning 'stickier' in the combination workshop and lectures we run.

The writer went on to say:

"A business studies lecturer, nominally paid to make new knowledge and to fuse research and teaching, delivers someone else’s lecture. He has actually paid for a package of pre-written lectures. I remember the person in question writing a breath-taking article in Times Higher Education where he reflected thoughtfully on how it felt rather odd to be speaking someone else’s words… This case may well tell us something about business studies, arguably a pseudo-academic subject and just a reflection of a certain phase of capitalism (rather as another pseudo-subject, theology, once dominated universities under an earlier phase of Christianity)" (Sugg, 2021)

Ouch. So not only are business schools globally "pseudo-academic", they use PowerPoint, and also therefore must be packed to the gunn'ls with poor lecturers. I feel that Mr/Professor Sugg may have a spot of prejudice about 'filthy lucre' and the gaining of it.  

He certainly seems to feel that business is not a 'proper' subject... perhaps like Classics, Latin, or English.

Is it just me, or does this read like academic snobbery?


Sam

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