Friday, January 29, 2010

Hello Prezi - So Long Powerpoint!

For years I've been part of the anti-Powerpoint movement -- the group of individuals painfully opposed to educators who presumably "teach" with their entire lecture written on their slides, transforming their physical existence into a mere auditory translation of the text for the bored-out-of-their-mind students. I've considered the importance of teaching the "art" of designing effective presentations but today, I think I stumbled upon the answer.

Web 2.0 does it again -- another beautifully integrated, easy to use tool that turns the concept of a presentation inside out by focusing on key words and visuals spread out over a continuous two dimensional canvas, using hierarchy and zoom to convey importance. Now I can't help but draw the lovely metaphor between an artist's toolkit and the Prezi interface, as we embrace our new methods of creating in the 21st century (as an art history I rejoice in seeing the arts influence business innovations processes so inherently).

Here is a simple demo of Prezi so you can get the idea then you can take a trip over to the Prezi showcase to view lots more samples (many which are simply mimicking the Powerpoint interface, you'll catch on to them after awhile).

I also rejoice in a move towards a visually-centric content creation tool. This makes all the difference. Moving away from an interface that requires a user to click through pages or slides is a huge leap for the western user ... bravo Prezi! I have felt constrained and challenged as an art historian, and I've been very vocal about this in presentations I've given in recent years, as I've attempted to craft learning activities for my students to effectively achieve objectives focused on visual learning. But how does one have students engage, critique, analyze and study an image in a text-centric learning management system (like Blackboard)? That has been my biggest challenge as an online educator and that was specifically why I began to migrate outside of Blackboard and started to dabble with web 2.0 tools (like VoiceThread and Ning).

So, check out Prezi. It's quite amazing. Hmmm. Prezi training for educators and students-generated Prezi projects? Sounds like a turning point! And for those of you who are eager to ask the question, yes, Prezi offers subscription options that give you the ability to keep your content private. There is also an option for a "Public License" for students and teachers which I wasn't able to get more details about, as I am not currently teaching right now (unless somebody wants to hire me?? Grin.).

To learn more about Prezi, visit the Learning Center which provides many beautifully done, easy-to-follow video tutorials.
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