Friday, May 4, 2012

Are You Tired of Powerpoint?

PowerPoint is a necessary evil for teaching in a technology enabled classroom. And if you don't believe me, read Tufte. E. (2009). PowerPoint Is Evil. Power Corrupts. PowerPoint Corrupts Absolutely.( Ever since Adobe Persuasion was discontinued I have been forced to use Powerpoint. I have even tried using Pages on my Macintosh and iPad. 

For the last couple of years, I have been making Quicktime videos of my lecture slides and placing them in the Blackboard or Moodle shell so that students can review them. I am often asked why don't I just create handouts. I don't for several reasons. I believe that....
  • students are responsible for their own learning.
  • the ability to identify and conceptualize is important for students to develop and a tool for doing this is note taking
  • active learning involves "activity" such as writing notes, hi-lighting, typing, etc.
Students are able to stop and review slides as many times as they want. And in fact this makes for more interesting interaction in the classroom, since students are not trying to be human xerox machines, copying every word on every slide. Many no longer take notes in class and are fully engaged in listening and discussing.

But it is a long process to make the original PowerPoint slides, turn them into Quicktime videos and upload them to Moodle. Every time I make a change in a slide set used in class, I have to make a new movie, remove the old file from Moodle, and upload the new file, and then make sure that it works.

So what if some presentation software came along that was could be edited online so that you only need to place a link or embed it in a Moodle shell. Well it does exist, meet Prezi (  If I make a change in my Prezi slides, all I have to do is save it in my Prezi account. (Which it does automatically while I am editing.) When the student clicks on the link or the embeded Prezi, they see the most recent version. No need to upload, download or redo movies. Not only that I can import my large collection of PowerPoint slides into Prezi, which also easily imports resources such as images and videos from the web. Prezi also allows collaboration through shared editing so that students could work on a presentation together. Purpose Faculty might jointly create a Prezi that could be used by all.

And best of all, it is free to students and faculty with .edu email accounts. Prezi also has an iPad app. It is easy to learn and comes with some very suitable templates. A full series of tutorials and cheat sheets can be found at

I gave my Purpose 8  Constructive Action students the opportunity to use Prezi instead of PowerPoint for their final in-class presentations and the Prezi presentations did seem more interesting and dynamic. Prezi also has the potential of allowing students to make online presentations without the difficultly of creating, uploading and downloading slide shows. All they have to do is post their link or embed their Prezi into a Moodle forum and the other members of the class can review the presentation and comment.

To learn more about Prezi...


  1. Since this posting, I have imported some of my PowerPoint lecture slides into Prezi and it is fairly easy. After the slides are imported, they are in a rather boring format, following the Powerpoint formats. But I've been tweaking them to take advantage of Prezi's capabilities. Inserting videos and images is really easy. I am not happy with how links look when placed in a Prezi. You paste in the whole URL, which is rather ugly, but it takes you quickly to the link. I would rather have text with a hidden link and have sent this suggestions to Prezi. The same goes for non-YouTube videos.

  2. For those who want a quick tutorial (from and available on YouTube) on how to convert your PP slides, go to: The option to import PP slides is new-ish to Prezi, and is a wonderful resource for those of us who have PowerPoint slides and don't want to convert the text manually. Though tweeking, as Adele suggeests in her post, is necessary on the other end, this does save time.

  3. Okay, so my old Powerpoint remote does not work with PREZI online. It does work if I download the Prezi and use the downlaoded file to show it in class. This means that everytime I make a revision, I have to re-download the file. Of course that defeats the purpose of working online and not going through all the downloading steps. So I went looking for a remote that also works as a mouse to move through PREZI slide shows. I found the Satechi SP400 & SP800 ( which are reasonably priced and have good reviews. Not only will they advance Powerpoint slideshows, but in mouse mode you can move the cursor around the screen and left/right click.

    I figured the $40-50 price (Other remotes with mouse emulation were over $100.) would be offset by the time saved in the constant downloading each time I made a revision. I have used remotes for years and prefer walking around the class room during lectures/discussions rather than being tethered to the computer terminal.

    I am waiting for new remote to arrive and will let you know how it works.

  4. The new remote works great. I got the SP800 and it works with both the Mac and Windows machines. The mouse emulation provides an arrow cursor that you can scroll around the screen. Good for Prezi presentations and web page explorations in class.

    1. Now I'm trying to use Airserver to show presentations wirelessly from my ipad. I'll let you know how it works out.