By JOSHUA WHITNEY
Students and teachers have always had difficulties communicating ideas. Both rely heavily on the PowerPoint format despite its limitations. But Jamie Kleinman a psychology professor at Avery Poin, has been using a new format to teach her classes called Prezi that teachers and students are finding much more effective..
Prezi is a cloud-based presentation software which allows users to zoom in and out of their presentation media. While PowerPoint is more linear in how information is delivered, Prezi is more like having a giant whiteboard with all the information except you can also zoom in and highlight parts of the board.
Kleinman herself has been named a member of the Prezi Educator Society. The society is an exclusive program for innovative educators around the world. The goal is to create and implement action plans for advancing engagement in their classroom and academic communities through the use of Prezi.
“Definitely more people should use it”. she said in a recent interview.
Kleinman first discovered Prezi when one of her students showed it to her.
“I was teaching Intro to Clinical Psych in 2012 and one of my students showed it to me thinking I would love it”.
She said she became hooked on Prezi.
“I was three lectures from the end and I never used PowerPoint again I switched immediately.”
It has many advantatgs, she said.
“It’s in the cloud and so my students can access it outside of the learning management system at any point. Which means that even if they finish the class they can still have access to the information. It’s also really great for them if their doing group projects because its cloud-based. They can work on it together even if they are in different places.”
Another benefit has to do with the the way you convey the information.
“It’s a canvas-based system instead of a PowerPoint, which is kind of linear. So the way Prezi works you just put all of your components and text and videos and everything on a canvas. And so I think that it is really helpful for students to get very big picture ideas of things so I’m helping them organize their understanding.”
Another advantage of Prezi, she said is the zoom-and-pan function.
“It reinforces this notion of here is a topic we are going to go inside of it, we are going to go in to it. If I want to go in and change something on the Prezi it is much easier than a PowerPoint. For Prezi all I have to do is go to the Prezi in the cloud make the change and the students have access to the change instantly. With PowerPoint I would have to take down the old version, make the change then upload the new PowerPoint”.
She said Prezi maintains the flow of the class much more smoothly.
“With Prezi I am able to go between ideas with little time wasted as I can go directly to the information as opposed to PowerPoint where I would have to backtrack through all the slides to find the right slide which disrupts the flow of the class.” \
Prezi videos can be accessed within the Prezi without leaving the Prezi, she said.
She acknowledged there also are drawbacks.
“There is a very small segment of people that (get) nauseous to watch the shifting.
It’s not as effective for people who are linear thinkers, she said.
But the biggest problem is learning how to use it.
“There is a learning curve to using it. To become proficient in Prezi probably took two years.” On the other hand, she said, it’s easier if you’ve already used PowerPoint.
“I had existing lectures in PowerPoints that I was just migrating over so Prezi has a way to do that. Then there were new courses I would still make in PowerPoint and then import. And now since 2014 I don’t use PowerPoint at all.”
Kleinman said students seem to like it.
“I have never gotten negative feedback about Prezi.”
She noted how Prezi engages the students and while she never took attendance she noticed that her classes were full.
“On the student evaluation surveys no one has said anything negative about Prezi. In fact most comments are about how the enjoyed Prezi”.
One student had noted that it was easier to find information from the presentation without scrolling through the whole thing..
Due to the fact that Kleinman is not only a user of Prezi, but as a member of the Prezi Educator Society , an advocate. She leads workshops here and at Storrs. This workshop is also not limited to just teachers as students as well to maximize those who would use Prezi.