Unrolling Prezi

I have dabbled with Prezi a few times, but tomorrow and the next day will be the first time I will use it as a presentation tool in my class. The interface takes some getting used to, but after awhile I found it very simple and now prefer it to the traditional menu format. Of course, the thing that really took some getting used to was how to think in a way that leveraged the affordances of the tool. Prezi enables you to make graphics using shapes, arrows and text. PowerPoint, though I don’t use it that much for presentations, has really branded itself on how I approach lectures, talks, etc. After getting past the initial confusion with the tool itself, I had to rethink how to actually design a presentation with it. I kept wanting to default to linear, bullet-pointed lists of information. I don’t think my first two attempts are that great, but they are a step in the right direction. I will keep learning this tool, not because I want to replace PPT, but because I want to bust my thinking wide open.

This is another example of how technology has imposed constraints on my thinking, rather than supporting my brain’s natural way of looking at the world. Prezi still has its limits, but at least it has prompted me to get away from laying down one slide after another and to organize information in a different way. If I can think about new ways of presenting content, I am more likely to see the content in a new and fresh way. Here is an example of something I made today.

From a student’s perspective, I think this would be a lot more interesting than PPT, even though it is really much simpler. There is no theme, no background, no images (though they can be added, as well as video and PDFs); just the content. I am also prepared for some of them to complain because PPT has dictated the way they take notes. For people who like to just write down whatever is on the screen, this will be quite frustrating. This may be a case where providing graphic organizers will be helpful. If done well, which mine really isn’t, the content becomes the visual. Most people think of their content, then try to create or find a visual to go with it. Using this tool, the content can be arranged and navigated through as a visual. Pretty cool stuff. So, jump in there and give Prezi a try. You may just become a fan. And if you have examples of cool ways to use it, please share.

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