Are you ready for a change when it comes to how you deliver your lesson? Is PowerPoint or just plain writing on the board getting tedious? If you’re writing a lot of your material on the board, you have to do that every time you teach, even if you have the notes from last time. That time you spend scribbling away with your back turned could be spent seeing if your students are getting the material, or on extra time for explanations and examples.
If you’re using PowerPoint then you might be ready for a new look. You’ve heard about some other options that do things like PowerPoint but in a way that engages your students more.
No matter how you see it, there are two new kids on the block when it comes to presentation tools, and a lot of people are saying they have the right stuff (shameless boy band reference). Prezi and PowToons are being used by teachers all over the world to create new and exciting content that would have otherwise been created using the snooze-tacular assets of PowerPoint.
So you’ve come here to find out if it’s worth your extremely valuable time to spend the thousands of hours learning yet another software tool. Ok, maybe it’s not thousands of hours but it might as well be when you consider how many minutes of YouTube video tutorials you’re going to have to look through just to figure out how to change a font or some other seemingly simple thing.
If that’s you, you’ve come to the right place. I’m going to tell you which one is better for you and why. I’ll even give you an idea of how much time it’ll take you to get up and running.
I’ll start by saying that PowToon and Prezi are great tools, so if you’re looking for me to deliver a text-based thrashing to one of them, you might be a bit surprised. While they can both be used to replace PowerPoint, they have different strengths that make one better for some things than the other.
First, let’s start with a good baseline that everybody probably knows. Can you guess what it is? I’ll give you a hint. I’m talking about the undisputed king of old school presentations. It’s rein spans the transparency and overhead projector era into today. That’s right PowerPoint.
I remember when you could impress the entire room with slide transitions, or drop jaws with word animations. The world has changed. There are options that are almost identical to PowerPoint, like google slides for example. There are also options that take content delivery to a whole new level. As I mentioned before, two of the most popular of these are Prezi and PowToon.
Don’t fret if you’re old school and still down with the PPT, many of the things you can do in Prezi and PowToon can be achieved in PowerPoint albeit with a little extra effort.
If you’ve been on the web and seen a text based video with charming yet slightly hokey music, there is a good chance it was created with PowToon.
What PowToon does better than Prezi and PowerPoint, is create a standalone presentation that people will more than likely watch. PowToon presentations if done halfway right seem like presentations that are meant to stand alone. This is unlike Prezi and PowerPoint which feel like they’re missing something when you watch them without a live speaker.
PowToon is able to accomplish this with object and character animations that hold your attention for the duration of the presentations instead of just having text fly around in different patterns. You wouldn’t think that talking clipart would make such a big difference but it does.
The other aspect of PowToon that sets it apart from the other two is the ease with which you can integrate music into the presentation. Even with the free option, you have enough quality choices to do a good job.
PowToon is also pretty easy to use. Don’t expect to spin your wheels for long trying to learn the ropes of the program. After a short tutorial, you should be off to the races, providing web tools aren’t completely new to you.
One downside is that PowToon presentations don’t necessarily lend themselves well to long presentations. If you have a lot of material and want to use PowToon then it might be best to break it up into small chunks. The hokey part of the “hokey and charming music” increases pretty quickly with time.
PowToon is great for short catchy standalone videos. It will do a pretty good job of keeping the attention of your audience providing you don’t do anything too sleep inducing like making it too long. The learning curve is not very steep, so expect to have something you can use after sitting down with it the first time. You won’t need to practice before you can benefit.
Be Careful of the setting you use it in. PowToon shades toward informal, so if you’re doing something where you need to stay very elegant or professional looking the whole time, another option may suit you better. Additionally, If you’re giving a long live presentation, PowToon may not be the best option. All of the cute charming aspects of PowToon can get old after a while.
Prezi is a slightly closer cousin to PowerPoint. Without trying, you could mistakenly or purposefully create a presentation that is nearly indistinguishable from PowerPoint. You might have your reasons for doing that, but if you did you’d be missing out on the most interesting aspect of Prezi, which is spatially organizing information.
Prezi excels at visually depicting concepts that flow from one to another and/or concepts that have a broad view as well as a detailed closeup perspective. If you think about your presentations as slides, Prezi makes each slide a region of a larger map. A slide can consist of the entire map itself or a region so small it’s invisible when viewing the whole map.
The simplest and most literal example would be a lesson about the geography of the U.S. Prezi allows you to have the bird’s eye view of the country as a whole in one slide, while then allowing you to zoom in to show a state, and then maybe zooming in again to show a city in other slides. You could move side to side to show adjacent areas, or zoom in to go more in depth. At each location and level, you have the full capability of Prezi allowing you to add as much detail as you wish at that particular vantage point.
The way information can be organized is Prezi’s strength. It will go a long way to helping your students understand the broader picture and how things fit together.
Prezi will also allow you to do animations just like PowerPoint at each vantage point/slide, so you can have words and pictures fly around and appear in different places to your heart’s desire.
Prezi is great for organizing your information in a spatial format. It’s pretty easy to use and is a closer cousin of PowerPoint. Like PowToon it’s an online tool, so if you’ve used web-based software before you won’t have any trouble getting up to speed. You should have something you can use after the first time you sit down with it.
Prezi isn’t going to easily create a standalone video that people want to watch without some special attention to making it engaging and interesting. This will take some extra work on your part. When you’re using Prezi you should also spend some time thinking about how your information spatially fits together, or how you might spatially convey your lesson. If you don’t, then all of Prezi’s camera motion and shifting perspectives will seem distracting and superfluous.
I hope that gave you some idea of which tool you’d like to use. The important thing to remember is that PowToon excels at stand alone engaging video, where Prezi is great for spatially organizing information. You don’t really need to commit to either one of these based on the time required to learn it, because the learning curve is not very steep for either one.
If you’d like a getting started tutorial for either Prezi or PowToon, sign up for the EduCraft Ideas mailing list and I’ll send you a tutorial for either one.
Good luck and remember
Connect, Engage, Enjoy…