Weekly Teaching Note
Feb 22 2012
Make Your PowerPoint Memorable With Images


Ever receive an email with one of those High Importance icons brightening your Inbox? The icon, being more visual than the printed word, indicates something powerful to the brain. Maybe that’s why those gold stars we all craved on our elementary school papers meant so much to us.

Humans are visual learners. Most of us have learned to apply that principle to our PowerPoints (PPTs), but we’d like to suggest another addition to your PPTs that is sure to improve deep learning and student learning outcomes.

In Learning to Think Things Through (2009), Gerald Nosich defines fundamental and powerful concepts as “those basic concepts that lie at the heart of a discipline or course” (198). Beginning each class with the key concept(s) you’ll be discussing is an excellent way to provide a framework for the day’s material.

So here’s our tip for making those key concepts—and your PPTs—memorable. One way you can minimize PPT clutter while magnifying student learning is through images. On your PPTs, get in the habit of starting each day with a slide that lists those key concepts. And to make your students metacognitive, let them know these introductory concepts are key by adding an image beside them.

For instance, since we want to hammer our students over the head with key concepts, we accompany them with an image of Mjollnir, so whenever they see the hammer of the Norse god Thor beside a key concept, they know—in their terms—it will be on the test.

Now what would happen to student learning if every course in our discipline, our college, or even our university adopted the same PPT symbol? That’s an inquiry for another time.

  • Nosich, Gerald. (2009). Learning to Think Things Through. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Prentice Hall.
  • New York Public Library Digital Gallery (http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/nypldigital/index.cfm)“NYPL Digital Gallery provides free and open access to over 700,000 images digitized from the The New York Public Library's vast collections, including illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, vintage posters, rare prints, photographs and more.”  
  • U.S. Government Photos and Images (http://www.usa.gov/Topics/Graphics.shtml)A treasure trove of images in different areas. “Some of these photos and images are available for use in the public domain, and they may be used and reproduced without permission or fee. However some photos and images may be protected by license. We strongly recommend you thoroughly read the disclaimers on each site before use.” 
  • The Morgue File (http://www.morguefile.com/)“Public image archive for creatives by creatives. ... Free images for your inspiration, reference and use in your creative work, be it commercial or not!” See http://www.morguefile.com/license/morguefile/ for a summary of their usage policy. 
  • The Commons on Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/commons/)“The key goals of The Commons on Flickr are to firstly show you hidden treasures in the world's public photography archives, and secondly to show how your input and knowledge can help make these collections even richer. ... Under "The Commons," cultural institutions that have reasonably concluded that a photograph is free of copyright restrictions are invited to share such photographs under their new usage guideline called "no known copyright restrictions." 
  • Stock.XCHNG (http://www.sxc.hu/)Owned by Getty Images, this site contains nearly 400,000 free stock photos, searchable by keyword/categories or tags.


To follow up on any of these ideas, please contact me at fglazer@nyit.edu. This Weekly Teaching Note was adapted from a contribution to the Teaching and Learning Writing Consortium sponsored by Western Kentucky University.

Hal Blythe and Charlie Sweet
Teaching and Learning Center
Eastern Kentucky University
Contact Us

Center for Teaching and Learning

Old Westbury
Harry Schure Hall, Room 227A
Email Us | Map It

Edward Guiliano Global Center
Email Us | Map It

Weekly Teaching Notes
Feb 04 2016

How Accurate are Your Assumptions about the Students in Your Class?

Jan 27 2016

First Day of Class: Engage your Students with Poll Everywhere!

Nov 19 2015

Encouraging Students to Ask Questions

Nov 11 2015

Innovative Ways to Prevent Conflict in Student Groups

Nov 04 2015

Using Bloom’s Taxonomy as a Framework for Student-led Discussions