Did you notice that a software alternative to MS PowerPoint and Apple Keynote emerged from this year’s student presentations? It’s called Prezi (prezi.com). If you haven’t seen it, the idea is this: instead of thinking in terms of slides, imagine arranging all your presentation information on a large canvas as you might on a white board. Then instruct the software how to zoom in and out of various regions of that canvas in a way that complements the story you want to tell.
An illustrative example is on the Prezi website; another is James Geary’s 2009 T.E.D. presentation, though so far the best I’ve seen so far comes from our students. Prezi is web-based and free if your file size is 500MB or smaller (due to a special offer for students and teachers) and was recently reviewed in the NY Times and an HBR.org blog.
What does Edward Tufte say about the cognitive style of Prezi? Is it indeed more intuitive? Is it a fad? How does one create a traditional slide deck for clients? I don’t know.
Speaking of presentation software, did you see that there are now apps to control PowerPoint and Keynote remotely from your iPhone? Even though I already use a USB remote control, I am experimenting with the iPhone Keynote Remote right now. All one needs is an iPhone and computer on the same wireless network. Hold the iPhone horizontally (in landscape orientation) and you’ll see the current and next slides side by side, though most text is too small to read. Hold the iPhone vertically and you’ll see the current slide and notes. Swipe your finger to advance slides. My hope is that this $0.99 app will buy more eye contact with students and less looking over my shoulder.