TILE-SIG Feature: Composing Online with Prezi—Beyond the Traditional Slide Show

February 10, 2012

by Denise H. Stuart

Teachers are offering positive reviews of the online composing tool, Prezi. Middle level Language Arts teacher Katie Metcalf notes “I find that learners’ enjoy the flexibility and non-linear nature of Prezi…. [it] allows you to draw connections in a very visible, ‘outside of the box’ manner. Prezi logoIt really speaks to the visual/spatial nature of the 21st century learner as they are able to visually manipulate and connect information. It is even cooler when you get to use a touch-interface and zoom through the Prezi with your hands—very exciting to manipulate!” This web-based presentation software allows composing and presentation to develop beyond a traditional slide show. Easy to create, co-create from distances, and share, it encourages both creativity and collaboration in the process.

A Prezi starts as a canvas, the big picture, and moves through layers of details as you zoom in and zoom out of graphically organized text, visuals and other media. As with any tool, the way one uses it makes the difference. It can be cluttered with text or brought alive with animation and visuals. Prezi offers a toolbar for editing, viewing, sharing and other options. Editing takes you into your construction site to insert shapes, images, video, diagrams and files. Organize these with a frame of brackets or shapes then create a path that links the content. Customize design and aesthetics with colors and fonts. A recent addition to this evolving tool is a path thumbnail strip on the editing page, with a click and drag feature to realign sequence. Viewed in published form in a browser a Prezi shows as an animated tour of the canvas rather than the series of inserts or slides.

Prezi screen shot

Beyond presentations, teachers and students are using this free web based tool for collaborative storytelling, sequencing activities and more. Coach Metcalf tells “I’ve been able to search for already created Prezis on different topics, copy them to my login and then edit them or add to them.” The Prezi website offers examples and support, particularly through video instruction and the Prezi blog is a forum for users to discuss and enhance ideas with this technology. PC Magazine describes Prezi as “an animated visual feast unlike the usual boring set of bullet points.” This web 2.0 tool offers many possibilities for composing online, alone or with others. Explore, compose, and share! 

Denise Stuart is from The University of Akron, Ohio. 

This article is part of a series from the Technology in Literacy Education Special Interest Group (TILE-SIG).



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