Using Presentation for Assessment: Prezi

Introduction to Prezi

Are you apprehensive about asking students to demonstrate their learning using an electronic presentation platform because you are anticipating an unbearable death by power point? Worry no more because Prezi provides a creative and dynamic alternative. Originally released in Hungary in 2009, and inspired by an architectural rationality, Prezi is a Web 2.0 presentation tool that permits information to be shared in a non-linear fashion. Abandoning a routine series of slides, Prezi uses a single canvas to develop a concept map on which the creator displays multimodal content and then makes use of zooming and panning functions to illustrate the connections amongst ideas.

Uses & Benefits of Prezi

As an assessment tool, Prezi has great potential insofar as it enables students to creatively demonstrate their understanding of a topic by presenting information in both engaging and visually impactful ways. It empowers students to communicate their comprehension using two dimensional movement in all directions to graphically draw out relationships between the big idea they are trying to convey and the various supporting details. Just as important, from an assessment perspective, is the ability to assess the pathway that the student devises to present all the material within their presentation. To this end, one could evaluate whether the pathway is logical, coherent, memorable? In addition to the aforementioned benefits, there are numerous others. Counted amongst these are the ability for students to open basic accounts free of charge and the capacity to store, share and collaborate on presentations from anywhere in the world, given Prezi’s cloud-based status. Further, to produce presentations that ‘pop’, students can import graphs, charts, photos, videos, voiceover, background music and a host of other elements or files. What’s more, there is also a Prezi app that allows users to view and present on their mobile devices.

Weaknesses & Challenges of Prezi

There are, however, several challenges Prezi poses as an assessment tool. A number of these relate to limitations of the tool itself. Since it is web-based it is vulnerable to network problems or unreliable internet connections. Within the free basic account, functionality and rich-editing tools can be somewhat limited, as can customizable options. Prezi is not printer-friendly, which can prove tricky if the instructor desires a physical copy of the presentation. Depending on how the content is structured and delivered by the student, there is also the risk that the presentation can have a dizzying effect on the audience. This is especially true if the student uses erratic transitions, dramatic orientation turns, sprawling flyovers or a lot of cross-screen movements across the canvas. The learning curve involved in gaining mastery of Prezi can also be quite steep. Combined, these potential weaknesses can moderate Prezi’s effectiveness as an assessment tool.

Example Application of Prezi

I can readily think of many examples regarding how Prezi might be applied as an assessment tool in an online class. For instance, if teaching a graduate course in educational administration the instructor could have students develop a Prezi that captures their understanding of a topic. An example topic could be teacher competence and professional growth. Students could use this topic as their big-picture overarching idea within their Prezi, and then develop details within that big-picture idea that relate to germane subcomponents, such as the teacher supervision and observation process, as well as evaluation and remediation processes.

Sample Learning Objectives for Presentation Assessment with Prezi

1. For an educational administration online class…Given a unit of study on teacher competency, students will produce a presentation that shows, without any errors, an understanding of the teacher supervision, observation, evaluation and remediation processes by conceptually mapping, through the use of Prezi, the connections among at least six clauses contained within a sample school jurisdiction’s teacher competency policy.”

2. For an educational leadership theory online class... “Upon conclusion of a module on path-goal theory, students will create a Prezi presentation that accurately describes the 4 key components of the theory with 100% accuracy.”

3. For an educational finance online class… “After reading the provincial student funding manual, students will design a Prezi presentation that correctly explains 5 of the 15 sources of additional funding for differential cost factors."