Monday, 21 December 2009

A Powerpoint Alternative - Prezi

I have to admit that over the years, I have used a lot of powerpoint presentations or variations of them. However, over the last year or so I found myself wondering what alternatives to powerpoint were there? I'm not talking about programs which essentially show slides but with a slightly different user interface, but something really "different" which not only presented the information in new ways but allowed for more creativity, was relatively easy for 10 and 11 year olds to learn and did a better job at showing connections between ideas.

Don't get me wrong, there are still plenty of uses for a good powerpoint presentation and there are hundreds of websites which give pointers on how to create the "ultimate presentation." What I wanted, was a format which was somehow less linear.

That is, a format which allowed the audience to participate by seeing the big picture and its component parts and more easily discuss each of the factors involved. Luckily, I discovered Prezi which does just that.

Prezi is a non-linear presentation tool which allows you to start at the top of a concept (a top-down perspective) and allows the audience to see all the component parts of the concept or topic. The presenter or the audience can then explore randomly, or along a fixed path, and identify and discuss the various components.

This tool has been very helpful and I've created several. The children who have had the opportunity to try it out have found it has a bit of a learning curve, so I've always guided them through their first two or three (as I do with all the tools I introduce). Once they get the hang of it, and lose the Powerpoint linear model way of thinking, they love it.

It has been a great help with children who have difficulty sorting concepts into individual ideas or identifying connections. In other words, it is a great help for children who have trouble seeing the forest for the trees or who have Inquiry topics which have several different important aspects contributing to a main idea.

For example, a Prezi was done on global warming. Some of the contributing factors were collected together in seperate frames but still clearly visible within a whole concept, thus showing its connection to other factors of global warming.

As I suggested above, Prezi has been very helpful in showing connections between concepts or ideas which Powerpoint simply cannot, in a fluid random access sense. Hence, the children, while still enjoying Powperpoint because it is one of their "comfort zone technologies" have increasingly started turning to Prezis for their project ideas and class discussions.

The facts:

Who used it?: Year 6 (aged 10-11 years old)
Where can I find it?:
Cost: Free (but with limits - no education package that I'm aware of)
What is it?: Alternative Presentation Tool
Why would I use it?: When concepts have several connected ideas that need a "top-down" view which does not come across well in Powerpoint.

How do you use Prezis? Perhaps you've found an even better tool for presentations. If so, please let me know in the comments!


Angelie, Chief Evangelist at Prezi said...

Thought you and your readers may like to know (if you haven't heard the BUZZ!) about our new Education License, which makes Prezi Enjoy free (yes, FREE) to users with a school email address. And, get Prezi Pro with Prezi Desktop at a special educational discount.

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