“I thought you would use prezi, PowerPoint is so 2005”

“I thought you would use prezi, PowerPoint is so 2005” wrote a lecture participant as a comment on Helen Beetham’s recent lecture at our university on ‘Making sense of learning in a digital age’.

PowerPoint vs Prezi?
PowerPoint vs Prezi?

This comment juxtaposes two kinds of presentation software, Powerpoint and Prezi,  and places them on a spectrum of ‘old’ and ‘new’ with the implicit value judgement that ‘old’ is bad, ‘new’ is good. But is that how we should judge technology? Or is the question rather: When is it best to use Powerpoint, what is it good for; and when is Prezi better to use?

Or in other words, for effective learning (and teaching) it is being critical about our use of technology that should count – exactly as Helen Beetham expressed in her guest lecture.

To me, Powerpoint as a presentation software is useful when you have a logically ordered talk that yields to a sequential presentation. Prezi, however works best when you have either a visual metaphor or arrangement for ordering your talk or when zooming in and zooming out has uses for your topic. Helen’s presentation worked in a way that she conjured up images, images of the haunted university, the constant scholar, which worked best as freeze-frame images – exactly the strength of PowerPoint. (Prezi would have worked only if she had a unifying metaphor of the haunted house and zoomed in into its various compartments.)

So thank you, anonymous commenter, you made me think critically about when I would be using PowerPoint and when I would be using Prezi in the future: the kind of critical digital capability that Helen Beetham talked about.

And if you are reading this blog, can you add either your thoughts on the above quote? Or the way you decide on a tool or technology when you do a presentation? How do you decide which tool to use?

Thank you,


2 thoughts on ““I thought you would use prezi, PowerPoint is so 2005”

  1. When I first discovered prezi, I confess I had a similar instinct to that of the anonymous commenter: that it would be a Good Thing simply because it was new and different, and so I resolved to transform my old lecture PowerPoints into prezi files. But it soon became apparent that it would work well for some types of teaching and less well for others; indeed, the whizzy-zoomy aesthetics of prezi leaves me (and I’ve heard others say the same) feeling rather seasick if it is used simply for the sake of it (rather like animations in PowerPoint are often gratuitous and distracting).

    For some of the more ‘stand-and-deliver’ sessions I find myself doing, those where I know the order of things, even if there is scheduled space for activity and discussion, PowerPoint is still my software of choice. But for seminars, or discussion-led activities, where I have a sense of what materials (images, sound files, video files) might be useful to have to hand, and I have only a rough structure, I still mean to use prezi. I say *mean* simply because, let’s face it, learning new software, and learning to use it effectively, takes time…. In the absence of such time, and indeed before I discovered prezi, the use of action buttons to create flexible menu-type presentations fulfilled the same role for me for some years, in those sessions where I want to be able to move freely among pieces of material without a strict linear structure.

    Personally, I think PowerPoint is underrated; intelligent use of its functions and a good sense of design are, in my opinion, the key elements in making an effective presentation. Without those, it doesn’t matter what software you use–the results will always be less than useful.

  2. Interesting comment as actually this was created in keynote, which I use more frequently than prezi, just because I find it easier to control precisely the arrangement of images and text on each screen. I’m not a fan of powerpoint and if my presentation looked like it I’m obviously not using keynote very cleverly yet – it’s a much more sophisticated tool!

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