Chris Craft Your Country Needs You!

General Stanley McChrystal, commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said of the above slide, “When we understand this slide, we’ll have won the war.” Marine Corps General James Mattis claims that “PowerPoint makes us stupid.” Something evil is afoot here that poses the greatest danger our nation has ever faced. I am sure al-Qaeda and Taliban operatives have infiltrated our military and is feeding our fighting men and women countless PowerPoint slides for the purpose of causing the inhuman death by PowerPoint. You think the Iranians are trying to build nuclear weapons? Think again, the nuclear weapons thing is a ruse to detract from their real production of weapons of mass destruction, PowerPoint slides.

Imagine where our country would be if Washington had to endure a PowerPoint presentation by Alexander Hamilton before he crossed the Delaware to surprise the British at Trenton? Drinking tea, eating sheppard's pie, and arguing about the Boston-New York cricket rivalry. General George Patton would have slapped his staff silly and shot both the projector and laptop with his ivory handled pistols if he was shown a PowerPoint presentation before the Battle of the Bulge. Our old Soviet Russian enemies are probably slapping themselves silly for wasting all that money spent building weapons which caused their economy to collapse. PowerPoints would have been much cheaper. Would Theodore Roosevelt have charged up San Juan Hill with the Rough Riders and Buffalo Soldiers if he had to watch a PowerPoint presentation first? Well, yes because TR was too hyper-active to set through a PowerPoint briefing.

We now need someone who can save our brave fighting men and women from that cruel, inhuman form of torture known as “Death by PowerPoint.” That one man who can save our nation is Chris Craft. Chris has traveled across our great nation extolling the virtues of simpler presentations. He believes carefully chosen pictures and phrases are much better at communicating an idea better than placing every word on a slide. This less-is-more approach is just what we need to save our nation. Chris, if you are reading this, you need to catch the first thing smoking to Afghanistan to root out the evil that threatens to turn our brave fighting forces into zombies who will do our enemies’ bidding. Do this and you will return to take your place in the Pantheon of Great American Heroes.

All kidding aside, I have seen PowerPoint slides, Smart Notebook pages, ActivInspire flipchart pages, and Keynote slides in classrooms almost as complicated as the one shown above. If General Mattis believes PowerPoint is making our fighting men and women “stupid” imagine what it is doing to our students? Students who are active and engaged as students are necessary for our national survival as they compete with students from other countries in the future. Teachers, check your presentations and simplify them. Then simplify them some more.

Chris, your country needs you now more than ever!

Parting Thoughts From SC Ed Tech 2009

I am tired but happy to be back with my family after returning from the 2009 South Carolina Educational Technology Conference in Myrtle Beach. The last three days have been a whirl of learning, connecting with old friends, and making new ones. Here are some of my thoughts and observations of the time I spent in Myrtle Beach in no particular order.

The biggest trend coming over the horizon is the use of mobile phones in the classroom. While this might not be a new idea, I believe many educators are rethinking their stance on their use. Okay, it not breaking news that almost every student has a mobile phone these days. However, instead of taking them away maybe we need to look at how we can use these devices in the classroom. Today's cellphones are essentially mini-computers. They can access vast amounts of information from the Internet and kids could probably type essays using their thumbs faster than writing them on paper. Of course rules would have to be set governing their use. With budget cuts reducing the availability of more computers in the classrooms this is an idea with more study.

Speaking of budget cuts and the economy, attendance was way down this year. Many of my friends around the state were not able to come. Vendors did not have the usual cool "schwag" you usually see at the conference. This could be a blessing in disguise. I had the pleasure of meeting many new people who I now communicate with over Twitter. Since the vendors did not have much to offer, there seemed to be more participation in the sessions.

I have challenged people to show me a serious educational use for Facebook I would consider it. Nobody took me up on my challenge until I saw how a USC-Sumter Economics professor used Facebook groups to extend class discussions to the popular social network site. The professor also used her groups on Facebook to give out class information too. I was so impressed I created a Facebook group for my school.

Congratulations to my good friends Mary Ann Sansonettie and Chris Craft on receiving the Making it Happen Award. This award was deserved to two educators who are passionate about using technology in teaching. Both educators are a great inspiration to me personally.

Hopefully, I will be back next year to help solve the great mystery which will be the theme for next year. Until then, I will be exploring many of the things I learned at this years conference. I hope to see everyone in Myrtle Beach next year.