P. Trowler

Lancaster University (UNITED KINGDOM)
Using the relevant literature and secondary data, this paper interrogates the development, uses and effects of PowerPoint, the display technology, though the lens of social practice theory (SPT).

The purposes of this interrogation are:
1. to assess the power of SPT to offer more than would otherwise be available to the analyst and
2. to extract any lessons for change processes more generally on the other.

These questions could be roughly paraphrased as:
1. "does SPT really offer us anything we didn’t already know?” and
2. “what can the application of SPT in this case study tell us about change process in higher education?“

The paper gives a brief overview of social practice theory followed by an account of the rise of PowerPoint and suggested explanations for its rapid and wide dissemination and use. The critical commentary there has been on its deleterious effects is summarised .

This provides the foundation for the second section which goes on to apply a SPT lens to the phenomenon in order to answer the research questions about change processes and the value of that lens. Conclusions are drawn, answering those questions. Although there are elements of re-stating the obvious in more obscure language, insights offered by SPT about both PowerPoint and its effects are identified, as are improved understandings about change processes more generally - understandings that would not be evident without SPT.

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