THE TEACHING ECONOMIST - William A. McEachern                 

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Issue 31, Fall 2006

William A. McEachern, Editor

Odds and Ends

In the hundreds of student comments that I read at RateMyProfessor.com, I found no good words about the use of overheads or PowerPoint® slides in class. I wasn't even thinking about this topic until I noticed an accumulation of negative comments. Here's what I mean:

"He is amazed by PowerPoint and will prove this to you every single class."

"He puts too much information on slides and goes so fast you can't copy anything down, and gets mad if you ask him to slow down."

"All she does is read the damn overhead, if there is no overhead, she probably couldn't even teach."

"Very hard to understand, and lectures are nothing more than him reading the textbook's PowerPoint slides and generally repeating them in slightly different language for about 2 hours."

"If anyone has questions, he tells you to go to WebCT and download the PowerPoint slides! Absolutely no help to students at all!"

"PowerPoint slides are ineffective teaching tools."

"She just reads off her PowerPoints WORD FOR WORD."

"Reads long PowerPoint slides from the book and rushes through them giving you no time to copy."

"Not only is this guy pretending to teach by reading slides, he'll even stray you away from the whole major. In those rare occasions in which he uses the chalkboard to explain a problem, you can see a glimpse of his teaching potential. Too bad, as he always returns to his notorious slides."

The Spring 2006 issue of The Teaching Economist offered a fairly positive assessment of economic coverage at Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org). A study in the journal Nature has found few differences in the accuracy of science entries between Wikipedia and Encyclopaedia Britannica (www.nature.com/nature/journal/v438/n7070/full/438900a.html). Britannica disagrees at corporate.britannica.com/britannica_nature_response.pdf . Wikipedia is free online. Britannica offers abridged versions of entries for free online but charges $70 a year for full access.

Early next year, Nielsen Media Research will begin including in its television ratings college students living away from home, a group not now included. According to Nielsen, college students watch an average of 24.3 hours of television a week.

Gretchen Morgenstern, business writer of The New York Times, argues that politics is more brutal than business because politics is more of a zero sum game. In business there is usually enough of a surplus generated by a deal or an exchange to make both parties better off.

I was at a Starbucks in Tokyo when an American teacher entered with his class of Japanese business students on what he told me was a "field trip" to show them how to network with others outside the office. He was using his conversation with me, a stranger, as a learning experience for them.

"Whereas, most people will admit their ignorance of physics or biology, the armchair economist is convinced that he knows exactly what he is talking about."—The Economist

"Highlighted by honors student" —Selling point for a used textbook for sale online.

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