Use of PowerPoint & Blackboard in Biology 115, Introduction to Nutrition

By Allison Miner,
Department of Biology

I use PowerPoint, a Microsoft program, to teach students because it allows me to put together slide presentations that include both text and pictures. This method organizes the lecture for students and incorporates pictures that demonstrate concepts. These slides also help the “visual learner” understand the material. This method is also good for student research and projects.

I require that students give a 10 minute oral presentation on a pre-selected current and controversial topic in nutrition using PowerPoint. Examples of topics include biotechnology, irradiation, mad cow disease, and the regulation of supplements and fat substitutes. Students must first research their topics which includes searching the internet and using their textbooks for valid scientific information. Students learn what types of websites are valid and credible sources of information. Students then prepare an outline, write dialogue, and compose slides for the presentation. Approximately ½ of my students have never used PowerPoint. I 

find great personal satisfaction when these students tell me how fantastic PowerPoint is and how much fun they had putting together a presentation. 

I accomplish several things using PowerPoint:

  • Increase student technology ability

  • Increase student knowledge of scientifically acceptable websites

  • Increase student ability to organize their thoughts and manage their time

Increase student confidence in their ability to disseminate scientific information and present it to a general audience.             

The use of Blackboard, a web-based interactive site, enables students to access course material and their grades 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I post announcements about homework and exams, answer questions about homework and any procedural or content question, post grades, post the syllabus, post extra credit assignments, and post practice quizzes. Since the class only meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the use of Blackboard allows me to be in touch with students, even on Sunday night while I am at home. 

For my online course, Blackboard is again the medium used for the entire course. The same materials that I use within my standing course are used in my on-line courses. I have uploaded PowerPoint notes that students view each week.  Each assignment given requires students to visit some website to discern more information. For instance, I frequently refer them to the USDA, FDA, Center for Science in the Public Interest, NIH, and other websites. Students also use the internet to search and find answers to questions I pose since there is an abundance of information on the internet.