Sunday, February 20, 2011

I'm asking the wrong question about Prezi

I STILL can't tolerate a Prezi presentation. Recently, I had to endure two of them. I've already mentioned why I don't like Prezi, but perhaps I'm going about it all wrong. Perhaps I should be asking a different question. So here it is:

"Why do you like Prezi?"

"If you mentioned that you liked the animations, then I'll ask this: How do those animations enhance the point you're trying to make?"

"How are those animations different from the typical animations in PowerPoint?" (No, I don't mean that these twist and zoom, I mean, a gratuitous animation in Prezi is no better than a gratuitous animation in PowerPoint, yes? Or am I wrong. Just because you can animate something doesn't mean that it SHOULD be animated, right? Or am I wrong?

I don't mean to beat this dead horse, (ok, maybe I do) but I HAVE to know what YOU see in it that I'm missing. When we think about the best presentations we've seen, do the animations come to mind? When we think of the most annoying presentations we've seen, do the animations come to mind? Which is better, do you (REALLY) think: creating a Prezi presentation, or creating a Pecha-Kucha style presentation?

If your only response is that the kids like it better, then I submit to you that you're chasing an illusion. Kids will tire of Prezi animations just as quickly (if not faster) than they tire from a PowerPoint animation. THEN what?

But, I went too far. I just want to know the reasons why you like it. Maybe I'm missing something.

9 comments:

Tim said...

At a conference earlier this month I decided to attend a workshop on Prezi, both because I've never been able to make it work well and I wanted to see if the presenter could give me some reasons why I'd want to try.

She was able to clarify some of the mechanics of the software. However, the primary reason she had for using this with students was motivation. Not, as you are looking for, that this is a better way to communicate information, but that the kids would like the fancy animation.

Whenever someone brings up the motivation factor in instructional technology (happens a lot with IWBs), I ask about the same issue you're highlighting here: how long does that motivation last? and what are you going to do when they get bored with the gimmicks? Never seem to get any kind of definitive answer to either.

Jim Gates said...

Right. So, it used to be that students would spend 2 seconds typing the text and two days animating it. It's now worse. The more motion they add the better they like it and the more it makes the audience ill.

I wonder how many executives in the Fortune 500 companies are making Prezi presentations?

Durff said...

But I don't like Prezi either.

Meg said...

I'm glad you asked this question because I'm with you, I don't like Prezi presentations either. I mean...shouldn't we know better by now?!

Meghan Johnson, Media Specialist said...

I completely agree that Prezi has great potential to be misused if you or your students put more effort into making it neat looking instead of making the content solid. To me, the whole point of using Prezi is the ablility to provide focus by using frames or the zooming features within your presentation, features that are lacking in PowerPoint or Pecha-Kucha. Prezi also allows unlimited working space to make connections that neither of those outlets provide. I'm not really trying to make you a convert, but here is a good example of a Prezi that shows you the good and the bad of using Prezi in educational settings. It would be ashame to toss aside a great tool because you've seen some poor examples of how to use it. BTW - I did not create this Prezi, but it is available for public viewing: http://prezi.com/rfsnedhqmhqa/thoughts-on-using-prezi-as-a-teaching-tool/

Meghan Johnson, Media Specialist said...

Perhaps you can publish this comment with typos fixed!
I completely agree that Prezi has great potential to be misused if you or your students put more effort into making it neat looking instead of making the content solid. To me, the whole point of using Prezi is the ability to provide focus by using frames or the zooming features within your presentation, features that are lacking in PowerPoint or Pecha-Kucha. Prezi also allows unlimited working space to make connections that neither of those outlets provide. I'm not really trying to make you a convert, but here is a good example of a Prezi that shows you the good and the bad of using Prezi in educational settings. It would be a shame to toss aside a great tool because you've seen some poor examples of how to use it. BTW - I did not create this Prezi, but it is available for public viewing: http://prezi.com/rfsnedhqmhqa/thoughts-on-using-prezi-as-a-teaching-tool/

Mr Riley said...

Thanks for posting this, I was just getting ready to develope a Perezzi lesson plan. I agree that students are more interested in developing animated PowerPoints and can see how they would over animate a perezzi. However I am sure for the proffesional presenter a set of guidelines would be helpful.

Jim Gates said...

@Meghan...

I looked at the example you shared. I had it on full screen in the front of the room. For me, the motion still makes me sick. I still find it to be motion for the sake of motion. To me, the motion detracts from the message. I would love to see a study that compares test results of those who were taught with static slides vs prezis. I have to believe that the results would show lower scores - just as they did when compared to animated powerpoints.

But, I also realize that I'm in the minority here. Lots of folks seem to like it. For me, I can't stand to watch it.

Candace Hackett Shively said...

Jim,
It's not the motion that makes it work. It's that a GOOD Prezi is all of these:

1. a graphic organizer/visual map of the content's "big picture" at the same time as a macro view of its details

2. NON-linear. You can navigate on your own to drill down, explore, dig, notice, envision, expand, etc.if the presetner makes it YOURS to navigate.

3. Visual, visual, visual. Even the relative size of things can deliver part of your message. Think advertising.

The problem with Prezi is that is can be used as poorly as PowerPoint. And it CAN make people motion sick. I am trying to master it myself, having done some lousy things with it for my ISTE preso (prezi) last year. As a visual person, I find it one of the most intriguing tools I have ever seen to deliver messages visually and subtly. But I don't think "flying" through the animations is the key. Google Earth makes me motion sick, too. But that does not mean that it is a bad tool.

My 2 cents...
Candy