‘It’s PowerPoint, Jim, but not as we know it’

An alternative approach to using PowerPoint by Robert Griffin, PGCE Programme Leader for Art & Design

It is estimated that over 30 million PowerPoint presentations are delivered daily. Microsoft’s PowerPoint software is still the number 1 presentation programme across the globe. Within the domain of education, the teaching profession relies heavily on its ‘presentation’ capability and pupils readily use PowerPoint to showcase a classroom project etc. Invariably, these presentations follow a very linear approach with text and photos appearing in a formulaic manner to reveal the author’s message. If there’s one subject area that’s likely to break the rule of convention, then it’s art. Last year I was juggling three problems at the same time – I was seeking a creative solution to these questions:

  • How can I get student teachers to use ICT in school art departments?
  • How can this be achieved without a cost implication?
  • How can I help student teachers meet the challenges of the new curriculum e.g. DCF


With a degree of experimentation, it dawned upon me that PowerPoint could be used to address these issues by creatively exploiting its ‘art’ tools and custom animation facility at little or no cost.

The Adobe software product offering is expensive and many schools cannot afford such investment. Tablets, particularly iPads are available for use in schools but the landscape remains patchy in terms of those schools that have and those that don’t.

So, when looking at the questions I posed earlier, the plan was to create an approach that would cater for the worst-case scenario – an art department without any bespoke ICT facilities but bookable access to a room with PCs.


It is often the simple ideas that work best. It struck me that PowerPoint has a range of mark making free-hand drawing tools, prescribed ‘shape’ tools with editing ‘points’ capability , flexible colour tools, and a range of effects covering, for example, shadows and transparencies. Added to this mix is an animation capability with numerous effects for showing time based ‘movement’.

By experimenting with this ‘mix’ of tools, I created pieces of artwork, on a fixed loop single frame, that showed continuous animation. The single frame examples shown here are drawn from my examples and those of my student teachers.

The workshop session gave trainees an effective KS3 task that could take place in any school either within a department or through bookable rooms. Sometimes looking at the ‘familiar’ in a creative way forces your hand, something that Edward de Bono would call ‘lateral thinking’.

So, what would a DCF classroom task idea look like for KS3, year 8 Art, if the above ideas were deployed?

While the DCF doesn’t explicitly give an example for art, a creative interpretation could look like this:

‘Examine repetition through animated sequencing to communicate a visual message’.

While PowerPoint’s visual interpretations here gives a bespoke ‘Art’ response, there are opportunities for working across the curriculum in a collaborative capacity; for example, enhancing the meaning of words through digital mark-making and animation (Art and English). Donaldson’s Successful Futures promotes the importance of ‘creativity’ from two interwoven perspectives – teaching creatively in order to create the right climate for pupils to respond creatively to tasks and projects. This ‘unfamiliar’ approach to PowerPoint hopefully embraces the spirit of the new curriculum and offers a small step forward for art departments, and others to follow.

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