Prezi: No More Death by PowerPoint
More often than not, final projects in speaking classes include
student presentations. Listening to 30+ students read off their
PowerPoint presentations is enough to induce any ESL/EFL instructor to
death by PowerPoint. Although highly effective in aiding students in
organizing and presenting their topics in a visual, linear manner,
PowerPoint leaves much to be desired as the platform of choice for
finals week. As listening and speaking teachers in the 21st century, we
ought to seek innovative ways for students to complete presentation
projects. Enter, Prezi.
Professionals in the field may use Prezi for their own
presentations, so why not teach students how to use this wonderful tool?
In a study on Prezi, Brock and Brodahl (2013) discovered that listeners
found presentations given were highly engaging. Here are seven major
reasons to teach students how to use Prezi:
- Prezi is technological and can engage next generation learners.
- It’s flexible, allowing students to seamlessly add YouTube
videos, images, music, and hyperlinks to presentations.
- It’s creative, with endless possibilities for presentation canvases.
- It’s sharable, and students doing group presentations can access them in the cloud.
- Prezi is visually interesting, partially because it curbs
the need for text-heavy slides common in PowerPoint.
- It’s easy to use, and once you get the hang of it, it’s fun!
- It’s confidence-building because students are learning an
appealing platform that allows them to represent their individualism in a
technologically current manner.
Although some opponents of Prezi cite the zooming feature (the
ability to zoom into a frame of text/images) as detracting from
presentations or even inducing nausea, I have yet to experience this
with my students’ Prezis. The zooming feature could be likened to
animation in PowerPoint. Once students realize that the overuse of
animation and/or zooming features is annoying, they typically use them
with moderation. Another stated drawback to the use of Prezi in the past
was the user’s inability to print or save Prezis onto a computer.
However, this is no longer the case; it’s now possible turn your Prezi
frames into printable pdfs. After you have installed Prezi software onto
your computer or tablet, it is easy to download a presentation to avoid
being dependent on spotty WiFi. Conversely, having Prezi in the cloud
means students can email their instructor links to their Prezis, making
the presentation day student-search-for-USB-sticks obsolete.
Giving students the gift of Prezi can aid them in confidently
presenting on a variety of topics. My low-intermediate international
college students have successfully presented on topics ranging from
family, their favorite artist, planning a road trip, and comparing and
contrasting international Cinderella stories. From my experience guiding
students in their Prezi projects, I recommend starting out small. Give
students a quick tutorial by modeling a Prezi in class and set them off
in a computer lab with a very doable, easy project, such as “share your
favorite color.” Have volunteer students informally share their favorite
color Prezis at the end of class. Then, follow up with a homework Prezi
speaking assignment such as “introduce a family member or friend.”
is an example of one student’s Prezi on his spring break: and another
student’s Prezi on her favorite artist,
Banksy. By the end of the semester, my listening and speaking students
were having fun creating Prezis like pros, and my final day of class
projects was much more enjoyable for everyone.
Brock, S. & Brodahl, C. (2013). A Tale of Two Cultures: Cross
Cultural Comparison in Learning the Prezi Presentation Software Tool in
the US and Norway. Journal of Information Technology Education:
Research. 12, 95-119.
Melanie Jipping is currently a senior instructor in
the American Studies Program at Tokyo International University of
America in Salem, Oregon, USA, and has taught at a variety of
institutions including other liberal arts–based programs, intensive
English programs, and community colleges since 2003. She is currently
the TESOL HEIS Newsletter book review editor.