There was a time, maybe not that long ago, when it seemed that the default choice for all our presentations was the ubiquitous Powerpoint. Some people would make a real effort to get the best out of it, but others didn’t and the presentations could either end up terribly bland, or used a standard template that was full of grotesque graphic ‘frills’ that could make the presentations somewhat garish and off-putting.
When Prezi turned up on the scene, it finally freed us from the tight cloak of powerpoint conformity and gave us the ability to easily create materials that are brilliant for the visual learner; using a completely different paradigm for delivery. It was non-linear and used a ‘zooming user interface’ that would allow vast amounts of information to be included, but not necessarily delivered. It allowed you to build a story and choose which bits to tell. You could pick and choose from the material, with the opportunity to digress from your topic if required, but always allowing you to come back to the core thread through the materials.
Prezi suddenly became the flavour of the month, followed by somewhat of a backlash as it became apparent that Prezi was a ‘marmite’ technology. People either love it or hate it. Whilst some find prezis both visually stimulating to watch and liberating in delivery terms, others claim that as a viewer, the visual effects can make them feel nauseous and as a presenter they can loose their way in a jungle of information.
There are also issues for those presenters who like their presentation slides to ‘double up’ as lecture notes, as although Prezi now offers the ability to download each screen of Prezi, the effect may not be considered as professional as is possible using a slide based tool such as Powerpoint.
In the end, the best choice will depend; both on how you as a presenter want to deliver your material and also on the learning styles of your audience. The truth is that you can still make very simple and linear presentations with Prezi if you so choose, and avoid the temptation to over complicate them or use too much zooming and spinning. So the best advice is normally to keep them on the ‘simple’ side.
When Prezi first came out, users found that it had a steep learning curve and its functionality was quite limited, but it has been aggressively developed to the current version, where it is both easy to use and offers a wide range of functions including the ability to collaborate, present online, and edit via a desktop client.
Standing out from the rest:
So, we can see that whether we like it or not Prezi is a very different type of presentation tool that is likely to be popular with your ‘Visual Learners’. However, it isn’t only the visual aspects of Prezi that make the program so different and versatile, there are also a host of other functions that are not so well understood or frequently used.
Collaborating with Prezi
For instance, Prezi will allow you to collaborate on a presentation with up to 30 colleagues or students , either in realtime or their own time. Once finished, you can deliver the prezi online, to anyone who has the link – they do not need a Prezi account.
This is a killer functionality and the only fly in the ointment is that the service does not provide a ‘live’ audio connection between the collaborators, so although you can pre-record your audio as a voice-over and load that into your Prezi, you can not have a conversation, without using another online audio service such as Skype or Google Hangouts or even a simple chat service such as Neatchat
Getting started with Prezi
For some, the first steps with Prezi can be a little confusing, so you will be glad to hear that they have extremely good training materials on their own site:
But, first, if you are not already familiar with Prezi, you might wish to view some of the available examples, either by looking through their training prezis at: https://prezi.com/support/ or by reviewing other users presentations in their ‘explore’ area at: http://prezi.com/explore/popular/ both of which are available from the home page:
Now, to get going; follow these basic instructions:
- To get an account, go to http://www.prezi.com/ and click on the blue ‘sign-up’ button and choose the license you want: I would recommend the ‘Enjoy Edu’ license available from: http://prezi.com/pricing/edu/ although you will need a ‘.ac.uk’ email address to register for this license.
- When you are ready, click the ‘Create’ and you will go to a screen that holds ‘All your prezis’, from where you can click the blue ‘New Prezi’ button: . You can then choose to use a template or simply open a blank prezi, so that the editing interface opens in the browser.
- The editing window is very simple, and you will be on top of it after just a little experimenting to see how it all works: the top menu bar, gives you access to tools for adding frames, media and other elements. The left hand bar, allows you to create and edit the path that your presentation will take through the materials you are creating and text can be entered and elements moved within the central window.
- You can add a range of audio, video and images by clicking the insert button and uploading the media. Specific audio can be attached to a frame on the path, by first selecting the frame and then uploading a voice-over in mp3 format.
- You can enter text, simply by clicking in the editing area and writing, with some basic editing being self-explanatory.
After a bit of playing you will get the hang of it. Of course it helps if you have a good handle on the materials you are going to use before you start. You can’t use Prezi to hide a lack of materials and in fact arguably, you may well need a little more materials than you would on a similar Powerpoint presentation. Remember you can include materials into the prezi which you don’t have on your ‘path’. They can be there…just in case you want to use them or as further research materials for your students after your presentation.
And then sharing your Prezi:
Once you have got the hang of making your Prezis and ordering your materials together onto a path, the next thing to try is sharing it with your colleagues or students.
Sharing your Prezi for others to view or co-edit is easy, you just have to return to the home page and put your mouse over the Prezi you wish to share and click on the share button. You will then be able to choose a privacy level for the document (from private through to re-usable). To let others view the Prezi in their own time, you can share the provided URL. To allow them to edit the Prezi, you will have to add them (they will need an account) into the ‘add people’ box. Anyone with the link will be able to view the prezi in their own browser, whenever they like, but to edit it, they will need to have an account, then be added to the list and sent an invite email.
Presenting online to up to 30 people can also be done from the edit window; you just have to click on the share button and then pick: Present Remotely. This will give you a link to share. Copy this and email it to your participants and they will be able to see you present the Prezi – They won’t need a Prezi account.
As I mentioned earlier, you must remember that there is no live audio feed, so you will have to either rely on pre-recorded audio embedded in the Prezi or provide another channel for communications such as Skype, Google Hangouts or even a simple chatroom.
Small Task for Week 3:
Learning the basics of Prezi won’t take you you too long, but becoming an expert may keep you busy for a few late nights and although it is pretty simple, I realise that it can be a bit confusing for the newcomer. So, using the instructions above and the Prezi support pages, try and work your way through these tasks:
- Create an EnjoyEdu Prezi account at: http://prezi.com/pricing/edu/
- Find and watch some online Prezis by clicking on ‘Explore’ on the menu tab or go direct to: http://prezi.com/explore/popular/
- Review some of the Learning materials by clicking on ‘Learn & Support’ on the menu tab or go direct to https://prezi.com/support/
- Have a go at making your own Prezi – pick a subject you are familiar with and already have plenty of material to use.
- Publish it and share it with your colleagues. It is also possible to embed it in your wordpress blog, but if you get stuck leave a comment below and I will explain how.
- Try inviting a colleague (and/or me) to help edit it.
- Consider setting up a back channel to support your collaboration with Neatchat.
Some Points to think about in your blog post:
- First and foremost: Does Prezi work for you? Prezi is a bit of a ‘marmite’ technology, you either love it….or hate it. So, what is it for you: ’yipee’ or ‘yuckie’?
- Think about your presentation style:
- How does your presentation work for your ‘visual learners’
- Do your slides double up as lecture notes?
- Do you just want slides to work as an ‘aide memoir’ for your talk?
- Does Prezi work for your teaching style?
- How would you be able to use the collaborative aspect of Prezi? With Students? With Colleagues?
- Can you think of opportunities for you to use Prezi in your practice?
There is lots of material and opinion on Prezi out there to be found on Google….
…but the best way to understand how Prezis work is simply to look at public examples of how they have been used. Prezi encourages an open approach to sharing their presentations, so just search the Prezi archives.