Using technology in the classroom – Prezi Vs PowerPoint

The English classroom becomes more and more technological in some schools, which allows us to include some creative twists to our sessions integrating different programs such as Prezi and Powerpoint. Ever wonder which is best for your class?

Prezi is a virtual canvas that allows you to tell a story in a dynamic way. It has been used avidly since 2008, when it was created by Zui Labs, a Hungarian company. It allows users to make a presentation similar to PowerPoint, with the difference that this online tool will pan and zoom, and to size, rotate, or edit any object located on its canvas. Now, some may say that it’s no different or others say it’s overrated. Decide for yourself.

First of all let’s take a look at some of the similarities:

  • You can upload and use: images, sounds, videos, texts and charts
  • They can be used in all kinds of contexts: academic, personal or business

Now, let’s take a look at each tool separately and analyze what pros and cons each one has.

Preziscreenshot-prezi-4

Pros

  • Free, if you don’t mind your Prezis being public (unless you upgrade or have an educational account, which is fairly easy to obtain)
  • Sensation of being more fluid and visual
  • Web-based (work from any computer or tablet)
  • Collaboration feature
  • non-linear navigation
  • short learning curve (if you give it a real chance)

Cons

  • If you go nuts with the zoomable features, you can make people dizzy (Use grouping and frames to avoid this sensation)
  • Limited printing options
  • Web-based (when you have internet, unless you upgrade. Although you can also download your Prezis, they will no longer be editable)
  • Animated feature can become too much and not be as cool after about 10 presentations
  • There is a learning curve

lemon-tree-song-pptPowerpoint

Pros

  • More features and options in latest versions
  • PowerPoint animations CAN impact a crowd
  • Linear slide format and design (some prefer it)
  • More people are familiar with the format, which usually means they prefer it
  • No learning curve

Cons

  • Animation is not as smooth as Prezi
  • If not used well may come out as boring to the audience
  • Usually only the most common features are used (about 10%)
  • Linear slide format (finding a slide after you’ve passed it could be a hassle)

Prezi Vs PowerPoint

I’ll begin with saying how important it is to mention that independent of the tool you use to give your presentation, the result will rely solely on your ability to plan and include meaningful content.

Prezi:

Great for presentations that need:

  • to look at the big picture – details
  • to skip back and forth
  • map-like layouts
  • brainstorming
  • timeline
  • whiteboard effect

PowerPoint:

Great for presentations that need to explain:

  • reports
  • step-by-step ideas
  • processes
  • linear
  • numbers and data

Things to remember

  • Don’t overuse animations (or zooming in Prezi’s case)
  • Focus on the content. Don’t get so wrapped up in the tool and all the cool fun stuff you can do with it, that you forget the most important part: meaningful content.

Now, the good news. You don’t have to choose just one. You can mix and match based on your presentation. Now, as an EFL teacher I’ve found it extremely useful because it allows me to have a pre-made whiteboard that I can flip through easily, following my lesson plan with ease. Even though I usually create a kind of route that will take me step by step, it also allows me to zoom out and make use of the whole canvas in a very global way giving me a certain flexibility that PowerPoint doesn’t. Now here are some useful links that have tons of ideas as to how to use either PowerPoint or Prezi in the classroom.

Ideas for using Prezi or PowerPoint

Here are some links to get you started and a bit more informed as to how to use Prezi and PowerPoint in the ESL classroom.

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