Death by Powerpoint (a phrase my principal picked up at a recent conference) is a real and dangerous threat in education. In my classroom, it's more like death by Smart Notebook -- but in honesty, if you're using Smart Notebook the same way you use Powerpoint (ie, not taking advantage of its interactive features), it's six of one... you know the rest.
The thing is that Powerpoint and its ilk are useful. There are many times when you want to just get some information across, and Powerpoint provides a quick, easy way to provide a visual backdrop to your lecture. If you want to see why this can be a danger, though, you don't have to look much further than your own classroom (or, failing that, mine). When students have to present something to the class, Powerpoint is their go-to option -- usually involving reading a series of slides to their classmates as everyone slowly sinks into a stupor.
That's why it's important to show the students that there's more than one way to present information. I'm not saying never use Powerpoint again -- only that it's a great idea to explore the options and alternatives. With that in mind, here are five alternatives to powerpoint for using in presentations in education, both for teachers and students.
The one downfall of most of these applications is that, as with many web based programs, you do need an account to use them and save your work. That said, it's not too hard to make a single classroom account if you don't want to sign each student up individually.
Five Alternatives to Powerpoint
Haiku Deck is a lot of fun and creates visually compelling presentations simply and for free. My favorite thing about it in terms of student use: it simplifies the process. We've all seen student Powerpoint presentations with blocks and blocks of copied and pasted text -- try that in Haiku Deck, and it shrinks the text too small to read. Similarly, there are no animations, eliminating those presentations short on content but long on bells and whistles (seventeen gifs of dogs fading in to the sound of applause).
Prezi should maybe be number one, as it's the presentation alternative people seem to love the most. And make no mistake, Prezi is cool. Kids love it: it zips and zooms in and out, looking very slick and dynamic. But while Prezi is a fun tool, it can be difficult to master, and younger students (as well as some adults) would definitely find it a frustrating experience, which pushes it to number two on my list.
Powtoon is a neat app for creating short animated presentations. Free accounts limit you to five minute presentations (which is not such a bad thing given how long student presentations tend to go, anyway), but you can pay to upgrade to a different account. An educator account will mean students don't need an email address to sign in. Once videos are complete, they can be uploaded to YouTube, a functionality students love. This is less of a direct presentation tool and more of a video maker, but serves a very similar purpose.
Google Slides is basically online Powerpoint with one huge and important difference: it has the ability to be collaborative. You can set up a presentation and have each student contribute their own slide, or work to edit one another's presentations, or work in groups. The multi-user aspect of Google Slides makes it an incredibly powerful presentation tool for modern educators.
Slides.com is another Powerpoint-esque presentation tool. You can create public presentations with a free account and private ones by upgrading to a paid account. It functions very similarly to Powerpoint, but it can be nice to have your presentations stored in the cloud so that students (and teachers!) can access them from home. In addition, there are some nice bells and whistles on slides.com that make it useful for educators and older students.
Question of the Day:
What's your go-to presentation software? Are you still using Powerpoint?
For myself, I do rely on Powerpoint quite often. It's quick, accessible, and easy to use. I'm trying to branch out into other programs, though, and I've used Knowmia quite frequently to create classroom videos, as well as programs like those mentioned above.
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