This was the first post I wrote about Prezi and it has remained popular. I’ve also written a post asking for suggestions using the tool, which you can find here. If you want to see some example Prezis I have embedded them into these posts: creativity, planning, any ideas?
Flavour of the month (well, year) in terms of presentations, has been Prezi – an online presentation tool being held up as a being something that you can use to end the infamous “Death by Powerpoint”. I’ve seen loads of them online, and a few around the college where I work – so I thought I ought to give it a go – my attempts are here on this blog (last three entries). Having had a go, I thought I ought to add my (now slightly better-informed) thoughts to the debate.
Text or Graphics?
I think that the key thing to remember is that these are very much different tools, and they have different strengths and weaknesses. Prezi certainly has a big visual impact when you first use it, and each time I’ve used it, someone has asked me about it wanting to try it out. That’s fine, but I reckon some of the novelty is going to wear off after the first few times. My theory with Prezi is that actually during a presentation with a presenter at the front and participants who have come to a session on the basis of the title or abstract of the session it’s not going to be that different to powerpoint – just a bit swirlier, most presentations are essentially linear. Powerpoint is probably more flexible for that purpose – you can do a lot more with it. The cliché that always gets dragged out about complex software applications is that 80% of people use 20% of the functions and 20% use 80% of the functions – the numbers might be out, but I’m sure that the principle applies to Powerpoint – I just happen to be in the first group, so I don’t really know how good you can make them. It is probably fair to say that Prezi has a greater emphasis on the visual, while PowerPoint gives more clout to written content – but the reality is that you could create a really visual PowerPoint and a really texty Prezi.
So, the biggest difference is probably the much-hailed non-linear nature of Prezi against the linear structure of Powerpoint. As I hinted above, I think that most talks, lectures, etc are pretty linear, so I suppose we need to think how Prezi’s non-linearity could be harnessed.
- One possible approach is would be build up a great big bank of resources/links around a topic (almost like a text/reference book) and then set a different path through this ‘forest of knowledge’ for each presentation depending on the audience or the time allowed etc. This could then be made available online for people to explore at a later date and get deeper into the topic (I’ve tried to do this here). Being easy to tailor for different audiences makes this resource very recyclable – just keep adding new bits to your prezi over time.
- Try a completely non-linear presenting/teaching approach – have a very detailed prezi, and take cues from your audience as to which bits they want to look at; after the talk learners/participants can access the Prezi online to look at the bits that they didn’t seen in the presentation.
- You could just not have a traditional presentation in the first place – just present your learners or audience with a Prezi to look around, you can add in your own content, learners work through and take notes/use the content that they find most useful. Again, as with the above approach – these resources would be very easy to re-use in future, you might just need to add bits or emphasise different sections.
- Give learners a ready-made Prezi and get them to present it. Learners would plan what information is relevant to their audience and realistic in their allocated time and can set a path through the presentation.
- Learners can use Prezi to create a mind-map around their chosen topic. It is then simple for them to choose the relevant sections in order to plan a spoken presentation. I’ve found when introducing learners to Powerpoint, they find it difficult to plan the presentation, and tend to end up writing an essay on each slide. Prezi is much simpler from the point of view of planning, because you can just get everything down on the page and then work out which bits are suitable for presenting.
Over to you….
Those are the ideas that I’ve been thinking about… but I’d love to hear your ideas – please comment below on your (positive or negative) experiences with Prezi…
Here are some links to read and think about.