Please note that the scheduled closure of EV1 has been cancelled. All CTE workshops will be held in our regular workshop rooms, EV1 241 and 242.

Prezi

Prezi is a “pan and zoom” tool, which means that it allows you to create a multi-item presentation that your audience can explore either according to a pre-determined path or in whatever sequence they prefer. In a way, a Prezi presentation is similar to a concept map, but the digital canvas on which it appears can be very large: accordingly, the audience moves around the various parts of the map (i.e. “pans” around) and zooms in to see specific sections of the map in a larger format.

Here's an example of a Prezi presentation. 

Benefits

The power of Prezi is that it can allow you to present a system or network of ideas, facts, images, etc., in a "spatial" format that highlights the relationships among the members of the system, just as a traditional concept map does. However, unlike a traditional concept map, Prezi also facilitates zooming in and out: that is, viewing the system as a whole and then viewing specific members of that system. 

Functionality

Prezi has both a desktop and an online version, and the two can work in tandem -- that is, you can create a Prezi presentation --which are simply called "Prezis" for short -- online, then download it to your desktop version to edit it offline, and then upload it to the online version again. I found the online version to be a bit easier to use, and faster, than the desktop version (as well, with the online version, you can upload PDFs, which you currently cannot do with the desktop version). The online version is compatible with Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome, and Safari. You can download Prezi for free, but free accounts are also public, which means that your prezis will be publicly viewable, searchable, and reusable. 

Learning how to use the application might seem challenging at first, because the very nature of a Prezi presentation -- relational rather than linear -- is so different from that of other presentation tools. To put it another way, creating your first Prezi will probably be more challenging conceptually than technically.

Prezi can incorporate images (e.g. jpg, png, gif) up to a maximum of 2880 by 2880 pixels or 50 MB per file. It can also embed YouTube videos (but an Internet connection is required to play these videos during the presentation). Text can also be added by simply by clicking on the “canvas” and typing, but the font formatting options are limited. Positioning, aligning, and resizing elements is done via a built-in tool called the "Transformation Zebra." A Prezi presentation can be saved in a Flash-based stand-alone format to, say, a USB key and shown on a PC that does not have Prezi installed on it, or can be published to the web. 

A user can move through the components of a Prezi presentation either according to a set "path" that its creator has developed or, alternatively, can hop from one component to another in whatever order he or she chooses.

Best practices

  1. Audiences often respond to Prezi with "Cool!" and "Wow!" (and also, occasionally, "It made me dizzy"), and undoubtedly these "spectacle" aspects of Prezi can help to maintain interest in a presentation. It's important, though, not to let the "wow" factor overwhelm or replace the instructional design of the presentation.
  2. As suggested above, the power of Prezi is that it can allow you to present a system or network of ideas, facts, images, etc., in a "spatial" format that highlights the relations among the members of the system, just as a traditional concept map does. However, unlike a traditional concept map, Prezi also facilitates zooming in and out, that is, viewing the system as a whole and then viewing a specific members of that system -- viewing the "texts" within their context. Hence, when constructing a Prezi, it might be helpful to initially envision it as a static concept map, so that the overall system (and the relationships among its components) is coherent and logically organized. Then, begin to imagine the ideal pathway through the system, bearing in mind that you don't just need to move from component to component to component, but that you can zoom out occasionally to "re-orient" the viewer, and that you can return to the same component several times to reinforce it or to provide a kind of "anchor" for the viewer. In short, create a Prezi presentation first by imagining it as a painting (spatially oriented, like a painting by Hieronymous Bosch) and then imagining it as a story (temporally oriented, like a story or journey). 

More Resources

teaching tipsThis Creative Commons license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon our work non-commercially, as long as they credit us and indicate if changes were made. Use this citation format: Prezi. Centre for Teaching Excellence, University of Waterloo.