>AJ Thurman | Collegio Reporter
Final projects and presentations are looming as the semester draws to a close and some students are using a new program to show their work off in an exciting way.
Ever since the creation of Blackboard, the course management software, classroom presentations have become visually engaging. Most students recognize the classic PowerPoint presentation, which disseminates information in a linear fashion. However, a new program called Prezi aims to turn that idea on its head, giving a virtual presentation flow and narrative.
Prezi tries to do this by keeping the presentation on the original background or image, and using a pane or slide to the next photo, text or graphic. Tracy Comstock says she likes to use Prezi because it pieces information together fluidly.
“One can see at a glance how various concepts fit together,” said Comstock, graduate student in literature. “I like the fact that it’s so conceptual as well.”
Jamie McDaniel, assistant professor in English, says he started using Prezi in his classroom after seeing it demonstrated at an academic conference last year.
“I used it for the first time at the beginning of the spring 2012 semester to introduce myself and the class content to students on the first day of class,” McDaniel said.
McDaniel says he likes Prezi because it allows him to tell a story in a non-linear fashion.
“Prezi allows you to see the trees that make up the forest of the message you are communicating in your presentation,” McDaniel said.
He says he is not a fan of PowerPoint because it can cause people to fall into a rut that just displays their knowledge of how to work software, instead of making their presentation more interesting.
“The fact that you can make text flip around and include 20 different slide transitions does not help make your presentation more engaging,” McDaniel said.
“I regularly see professors at academic conferences who display slides full of text in a barely legible typeface and size.”
He says he thinks Prezi helps students stay more focused in class. He says whether discussing the history of zombies and vampires over the last 100 years or lecturing about the Civil War, it always keeps students engrossed.
“I think the novelty of Prezi also plays a role,” said McDaniel. “Students are often interested in new technology, and Prezi’s zooming and turning catches their attention.”
Comstock also believes it keeps students more involved in class.
“I enjoy Prezi being used in the classroom more than PowerPoint,” she said. “I feel there is a better representation of the overall picture.”
She also says it’s easier to share Prezi presentations.
“I also like that you can share your Prezi creations online and edit them collaboratively,” Comstock said.
Comstock says she prefers Prezi to most other presentation methods, but she thinks it does have one downfall.
“I do not like the fact that Prezi is fairly time-consuming to create,” she said. “But I will use it again because I love the concept. I just hope it will go faster now that I know how to use it!”
McDaniel says that Prezi has already taken steps to solve Comstock’s frustrations.
“They just released an updated, more user-friendly interface for Prezi, so the people behind it continue to support and innovate the platform,” McDaniel said.