This post “Hate PowerPoint? Here are 5 Alternatives” from Read/Write Web has been floating around the web this weekend. With the exception of Prezi (which I will list here as well), this post lists four other programs that are basically PowerPoint clones. Here’s an alternative set:
1. Prezi – I use Prezi quite a bit, but not all the time. It is right for presentations that still need a linear flow overall (that’s what the path is … a linear flow). It is also right when there is a “big picture” that will help you make sense of the information being presented. But it is not always the right thing to use. Most of my Prezis took at least 20 hours to build – these are not “throw it together at the last minute” affairs. A poorly-designed Prezi is just as bad as a poorly-designed slide deck, so don’t use it unless you have a good design in mind.
- Levers of Change in Higher Education
- How can we measure teaching and learning in math?
- Playing to Learn?
2. Mindmaps – I give a LOT of presentations off of mindmaps. I find the flow of the presentation can more easily morph to the needs of the audience this way. As
the participants ask questions, I can easily guide us to different parts of the mindmap to answer the questions and explore new resources. I have about ten active mindmaps, but here are some of my favorites for presentations:
3. Google Sites – If you want participants to be able to explore resources during the presentation, how about a quickie website? Google Sites is great for this. I’ve built a couple websites that were built for presentation purposes
- UWStoutMath (built for a 1-day workshop)
- Math & Technology Workshop (generic build for any 1-day math & technology workshop)
- MathET Learning Projects (this one started as a presentation website and grew into a resource)
4. Crowd-built alternative (Google Doc, Mindmaps, Chat Rooms) – If you have a room full of people and they all have access to computers, harness the power of the crowd to create the resource. It goes something
like this … “We’re going to learn about _____ and if you find any links, insights, or tips helpful, then please add them to the [mindmap/google doc/chat room]. At the end of the talk/workshop, you’ll be able to take this resource with you.” Here are two examples from past presentations.
- Wolfram Alpha Discovery (used a chat room to facilitate the exploration, this is a blog post about how we did it and what came out of it)
- Wolfram Alpha MichMATYC 2010 (participants created a Google Doc)
5. Animoto – I gave a Travelogue about my trip to India last year that was built entirely of Animoto videos with music of India and
photos/videos from the trip.
My husband and I narrated over the videos. My students and I have been experimenting with teaching through Animoto videos. Any time you need to share a lot of images and short video clips, Animoto could be a great option.
I’ll offer up one more alternative. Just learn how to create a well-designed slide deck. If you do it well, it shouldn’t matter which slide-deck program you use. If you create bad PowerPoints you’re perfectly capable of creating bad Keynote presentations too. I found that reading books like Presentation Zen and Slide:eology laid a great foundation for learning how to build better slide decks.
Finally, ask yourself, Why do you hate PowerPoint? Is it because you actually hate PowerPoint, the software? Or is it possibly because most presenters that use PowerPoint put less than 1 hour of thought into designing their presentation. A good presentation takes considerable thought to form, design, flow, audience, and venue. I’ve seen bad presentations in Keynote, bad presentations in Prezi, and bad presentations from presenters that “in an effort to avoid PowerPoint” used no visual resources whatsoever. The quality of the presentation usually boils down to one thing: How much time and thought did the presenter put into creating a learning experience for the audience?