Tuesday, 11 October 2011

CPD 23 - Thing 17 - Prezi and Slideshare


Ah, the famous Prezi, the new all-singing, all-dancing alternative to poor old Power Point. I feel a bit sorry for Power Point. Everyone makes jokes about it and moans about it but actually it's not the tool's fault that people load it up with bullet points and then read them out or set up 43 slide presentations. Used properly Power Point does a perfectly good job of displaying information visually and thus making your talk more interesting and giving it some structure.

That said I am curious about Prezi. I have heard mixed reviews. Some people are very excited by the idea of a visual presentation that isn't tied down by a linear pattern. Prezi allows you to whiz around from idea to idea thus offering a better reflection of how people actually think. They see it as liberating us all from the tyranny of Power Point. On the other hand some people find that it is horribly time-consuming to set up and all that whizzing around makes them feel physically sick. It's hard to imagine two more different responses to the same piece of software.

The time-consuming argument is perhaps unfair. Using a system that you are unfamiliar with is bound to take longer than using one that you have known for years. People will get faster with practice.

However I think the time factor will stop teachers and lecturers from being eager to embrace this new tool. I hate to sound sneaky but I think this is an opportunity for librarians in educational institutions. Mastering Prezi and using it in inductions or research skills sessions will make us look ahead of the curve. I know it isn't really the latest thing anymore but using Prezi rather than Power Point would be a very noticeable way of highlighting the fact that we are experimenting with new digital tools. Spreading the message that librarians are experts on all the latest educational software must be a good thing. You could even see it as an example of advocacy as discussed in the previous 'thing'.

My own experiments with Prezi suggest that it will take me a while to feel completely comfortable with it. It seems like something that you have to spend some time playing around with before you unleash it on an audience. I want to impress people without making them sick or getting myself hopelessly lost. Once I've got the hang of Prezi it will be useful to have the power to create presentations that look more technically impressive than those created on the much maligned but perhaps genuinely overused Power Point.


Did someone at CPD 23 share my sense that Power Point gets a bad press? That seems like a plausible reason to pair Prezi with Slideshare. This is sort of a social network for people who use Power Points, a flikr for Power Point presentations. If you want to see examples of really effective or creative use of the software than this is the place to go.

I am very familiar with Slideshare because I used it in my teaching career. I uploaded my favourite Power Points onto the site in the hope that other teachers might find them useful. I'm not saying that any of them were particularly mind blowing but I'm a firm believer in sharing resources to spread good ideas and to stop us all going crazy. I also used it to find inspiration or resources for my own lessons. That is part of the spirit of Slideshare. It's a place for spreading good ideas and sharing best practice. It would be great if we all started to use it to share library and information literacy presentations.

The other useful aspect of Slideshare is that you can use it to learn about all kinds of interesting topics. Have a browse. You will be very surprised what people make presentations about.

I guess we might need something similar for Prezi soon. There's a project for someone. Unless that already exists somewhere?


Interesting counterargument to my "hey give Power Point a break" naivety.
Power Point is Evil from Wired Magazine.

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