How often do you assign a presentation to your students over some topic you are covering in class? How often have you heard “We don’t have that program at home” from those same students? It IS possible, even in this world of academic pricing and file sharing, for a computer to be without the ubiquitous copy of Microsoft Office. Some people just don’t have PowerPoint.
As the Bible says in Romans, “They are without excuse.” One of the best tools for creating presentations and slideshows is available free for the asking, on the Internet. Prezi.com is equal to, and in some ways superior to Microsoft PowerPoint and the price is definitely right.
Once again, the most important part of choosing a technology tool for the classroom is to make sure it is the right tool for the job. Prezi provides an easy to learn interface and a very unique format for presenting data. The semi-3d transitions from topic to topic never fail to impress even those who have seen it before. It is easy to create and link topic balloons and, with a little practice and preperation, one can link to video, audio, or any other presentation material that may be called for. While Prezi may not be as versatile as PowerPoint in every way, it certainly provides a rich feature set that can be grasped fairly quickly. It is easy to use, especially for people who may not be technically inclined.
Another important feature is the location of the media and presentation files. PowerPoint files must be stored in the cloud or transported to and from school on a flash drive. Movies and shockwave files must accompany the presentations or be missing when the time comes to present. Prezi, on the other hand, is self-contained and online. Since instituting Prezi I have ceased to hear “I forgot my flashdrive”. The presentation is available to any system or Internet enabled device without taking up valuable storage space in tablets. Anything that will attach to a projector or monitor can act as a presentation device and did I mention how cool the transitions look?
Given the fluid nature of school computing, shared devices and classroom sets, as well as the nearly universal presence of broadband Internet, it makes sense to limit the amount of data that students are required to store locally. Presenting a topic to the class is an excellent way to learn the material as well as teaching valuable life-skills like public speaking. Prezi can make that assignment simple and effective. Give it a try.