I decided to use Prezi for the first time this semester. Like everyone, I wanted to explore an alternative to the more than popular PowerPoint presentation, which is known to easily bore students (although certain teachers do have aesthetic concerns about the delivery of content). Prezi is a free presentation tool available online, and its simple design makes it easy for anyone to use it, computer skills or not. What is great about Prezi (BBC Active approved) is that it does not prescribe a linear way to show material. Videos, images, maps, texts, and graphics may be presented in any desired order, even simultaneously, for Prezi is more like a giant online poster to scan than a series of chronological course notes.
Before adding content to a Prezi, one must decide to start from a totally blank page or from one of the inspiring templates given. For the purpose of my presentation, I decided to use one of the templates, for I did not want myself to be trapped in the fun of endlessly polishing up the visual aspect. I took too much time anyways, yet it was worth it! My secondary four students (and I, too) loved how dynamic the visuals appeared on the SmartBoard. They may not have participated as much as I expected, nevertheless the presentation did catch their interest and made them want to learn more. I never lost anyone’s eyes during the period: there always was something new to examine on the board. As mentioned in this article, students positively consider teachers who are up-to-date with technology. I know, I am still one! Teachers who try out multiple tools in class demonstrate an interest in improving and varying their teaching approaches. Furthermore, because I conceived the presentation to have the students discuss in teams about their opinion on images and videos, Prezi allowed me to focus on certain details, while going back to a general view of the exposé. This possibility to go from specific to general in one slide is one of the most interesting features of Prezi (+). It can be useful in an ESL class to describe the different aspects of an image, to gradually reveal a correction key, to access specific areas of a tableau, or to read a story sentence by sentence.
Another advantage of Prezi is the possibility to access it online, which makes it viewable anywhere and saved automatically, so no usb key or dropbox worries! Since presentations remain online, students may also access them when allowed via e-mail address (+). It may as well be interesting to suggest students to build a presentation with Prezi, especially when working in teams. All team members may contribute to the presentation and be aware of its modifications in real time.
I think it is worthless to use Prezi if one only expects to transfer its point-form notes onto it, without modifying the approach to presenting. Prezi will be used at its full potential only if educators explore new ways to present material in class. It allows one to go deeper into the subject and think outside the box. More complex notions may be easier to understand using a multi-faceted mindmap, or accessing multiple types of media in the same presentation. Therefore, Prezi must be explored intelligently and with a clear purpose in mind, otherwise notions can be transmitted using another tool.
What are you waiting for? Go try it out with your students and see the magic for yourself!