You’ve probably heard the old joke about the student who decides that instead of handing in a traditional written thesis, she will express her research in an interpretive dance. The joke is usually leveled at humanities departments and their alleged fuzzy thinking and lack of rigor. Well, some scientists have taken the idea seriously. For the past several years, Gonzo Labs has held an annual “Dance Your PhD” contest for scientists around the world. You can read about the contest and view past entries and winners here.
Last month Gonzo Scientist John Bohannon took things a step further. He offered a modest proposal at TedX Brussels that we replace PowerPoint presentations with interpretive dance. His talk is both funny and thoughtful—as well as entertaining. Arguing that “bad PowerPoint presentations are a serious threat to the global economy” he suggests that “we should use dance to explain all of our complex problems.” It’s worth watching.
Now, media technology - even PowerPoint - will continue to have its place in the classroom. But Bohannon reminds us that, given PowerPoint's ubiquity, it is often more effective to go "low tech." Think about all of those "In Plain English" videos on YouTube. They derive their impact, I think, from combining high and low technology, new and old forms of communication. Because, in the end, whether we're talking PowerPoint or Interpretive Dance, that's what it's about: communicating effectively.
A different version of this post originally appeared on the University of Cincinnati's ProfPost.