Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Prezi, the UnPowerPointy, Presentation tool

I blogged briefly about this in passing a month or so ago, but I thought it was worth mentioning again.

It's slide #6. I need to go back to slide #2 before the bell rings to show the "big picture" again. Backspace. Backspace. Backspace. Backspace. Ugh. This is much easier if I just exit the presentation (Esc) and view the 2nd slide again. Ok. We're back on slide #2. But the characters on slide #2 are way too small...back to slide #6.

Yes, if you're like me you metacognitively have conversations with yourself about your delivery and the quality of your presentation right in the midst of your presentation.

Enter Prezi. Prezi is a new presentation tool that veers away from the SLIDE paradigm that we are all so used to in presentations. PowerPoint linearity is what we're used to creating, but we're all realizing (the way we jump back and forth to different slides) that our brains (and our students' brains) don't deal with new and nebulous content in a linear fashion. (If it were that easy.) Learning involves bringing clumps of ideas into long term storage throughout multiple locations in our cerebral cortex. But these ideas only have meanings when the learners are in an environment where they can interconnect these ideas. Hence, we ask children to brainstorm using graphic organizers, bubbles, venn diagrams, etc. etc to help them solidify and make connections with what they have just learned.

Prezi has the ability to turn a didactic presentation into this kind of environment. Prezi uses Adobe Flash technology to present ideas in a playful way, zooming and rotating about text and images as if all these ideas where thrown on a giant white board. This would have been the perfect answer to my dilemma above, if I needed to get back to the "big picture" I would just zoom out.

With Prezi, you can program it fly about on a pre-defined path, or zoom and click onto content at the user's discretion. It's pretty amazing. And the best part, it's free for educators.

So, Go! Make some prezis and post links to them here. Embed them if you like :)

I'm still on the fence about Prezi replacing PowerPoints exclusively. There are many things that a Prezi cannot do (You can't print prezis, add photo rich detail) however for "big idea" lectures or introducing particular topics, Prezi is the way to go.

"But," to quote Lavar Burton from Reading Rainbow, "you don't have to take my word for it."

Watch it in full-screen for the full-effect :)

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