Using Prezi for Classroom Teaching
I usually teach using powerpoint or the whiteboard. Today for a change I started using Prezi an online presentation creation and demonstration tool. I downloaded the presentation after creation to my notebook computer for presentation but this was not necessary. Prezi is a different implementation of a show and tell environment and I will be using this more frequently in my presentations.
In a sense, Prezi is more like a dynamic poster presentation than a presentation software that runs linearly through the slides. It is a flash based and browser dependent application, so that it can be shown nearly everywhere, and no additional hardware needs to be installed. In that sense, a prezi presentation is quite a nice and hassle free application; besides it is possible to embed images, videos, audio clips (I think through the sound bytes), and of course texts and images that then become dynamic entities that gain focus.
It takes a while to get used to create presentations in Prezi. Basically you need to start with an outline, and I found that you cannot think while you work on Prezi. Think about your presentation beforehand, lay it out on a mind map (which is what I usually do for any writing), then either transfer that mind map as it is on a word processor or text document (use textedit/textwrangler on mac or any other word processor/text processor on other platforms) and then work from there, i.e., copy and paste or write on the prezi template.
Basically the way it works is this:
- You develop the idea of the presentation first
- Populate Prezi using word boxes, add pictures, add voice or other files, video, etc
- Link the “units” using a path selector
The combination of your own boxes/text/image/multimedia and paths creates a unique pathway based or learning pathway based implementation of what you want to show and when. On screen the elements will keep on being exhibited according to the magnification you want them (in turn depending on what you want to highlight). You can highlight individual words or phrases, and you can play on them. Or you can dynamically link individual elements within picture units. They are not “slides”, as nothing really slides anywhere but display units glide around and it creates quite a unique effect. I am not sure how learners may interact (coming to it).
The first couple of times I tried to use the Prezi templates that were prebuilt, it did not work. First of all, the templates were somewhat complicated for me to use for a first timer, and second, it was a pain to identify and select the path. Second, understanding this path structure is quite complex. It seems that it is suited to edit and modify paths after creation, but it was quite difficult to do this in the first shot. So I ended up adding to the path component after every two to three element creation. There is a panel that will let you reorder your panels to show.
Did I like it? I think I did. It has almost all the interactivity and elements of powerpoint, but the paradigm is different. It is more of a dynamic story telling. You got to have a story first and then build the elements around the story. Some people may not like the way the screen rotates and refreshes (may make people dizzy). One of my students got confused in setting up the iPad in the middle of the presentation as it asked her to log in. She just downloaded the app on her iPad without registration. These need to be fixed.
Overall, good tool to work with. I quite like it. Need to figure out some more productive ways to use it.