[sg_popup id=”8″ event=”hover”][/sg_popup]Powerpoint or Prezi Association EducationThe question is becoming more and more common — “Should I use PowerPoint (PPT) or Prezi?” The two presentation programs share many of the same features, such as the ability to include text, images, audio, and video. But whereas PowerPoint tends to progress linearly from one slide to the next in a fixed sequence, Prezi uses “paths” to move between content by zooming out to reveal a big-picture overview, or zooming in to show details.

Here are a few points to consider before making a choice for your association:

“Is the eLearning well-designed?”

Regardless of whether you use PPT or Prezi, content and design are key. These programs are tools; what you do with them determines whether or not they’re effective. Either one can have too much on screen at once, too many transitions, unengaging information, etc. Sometimes a change of approach is called for, rather than a change in technology.

“What do we want to use the program for?”

Giving a presentation in front of a live audience at a workshop requires a different set of features and considerations than, say, building a self-paced course. Both programs are designed as presentation tools, so either one should be able to fill that role. I’ve already written about how to create eLearning using PPT, so I won’t re-visit that here. As for Prezi, I personally do not recommend trying to use it on its own to create self-paced eLearning. With that said, it could still be useful in other learning contexts. Read on to see why.

“Why don’t we use both?”

Prezi does have a free account level available, so even if you already have PPT it’s possible to access both programs without paying any more than you are now. Perhaps surprisingly, these rival programs are somewhat compatible with one another. You can import PPT slides into Prezi to use them as a foundation. It’s also possible to turn a Prezi file into a video, using third party software like a screen cast program, and include that file in a PPT.

There are already many general comparisons online that have done a pretty thorough job of discussing the pricing, storage space, and other technical aspects of these programs. So this comparison is going to look at PPT and Prezi specifically through an eLearning lens.

• Interactivity. There are many ways to create on-click, timed, and some on-hover interactions in PPT. Prezi is not interactive beyond selecting which part of the screen you want to zoom to, or hyperlinking out to a URL. There is no way to include questions, click-to-reveals, or anything else that requires a learner to interact with the content.

• Compatibility with other eLearning programs. I was not able to find any eLearning authoring programs that listed compatibility with Prezi as a feature. PPT files can be directly imported into various other programs including Captivate, Articulate Storyline, and Prezi itself.

• Collaborative authoring. Even Prezi’s free account includes real time collaborative presentation editing. By itself, collaboration in PPT can be done by sharing a file and leaving and responding to comments. But if you’re using Office 365, or have a Microsoft account, the newest version of PPT also offers real time collaboration.

• Progression. Although PPT is considered “linear” and Prezi is generally “non-linear,” it is possible to build non-linear PPTs and linear Prezis. You just need to know how.

• Reusability. PPT lets you build Master Slides so you don’t have to format every slide from scratch. In Prezi, reusing your existing “Frames” can accomplish the same task. Both programs let you save custom themes.

• Branding. PPT gives you access to a large font library that you can add to. You can also customize the color scheme of each object individually. By default, Prezi has about fifteen font styles. If the font(s) your association uses aren’t there, you’re out of luck if you’re using a free account. You can customize color schemes, but all objects of the same type must be the same color.

• Medical considerations. Presentations created in Prezi have been reported to cause dizziness, headaches, and motion sickness. I was skeptical, but I have experienced it firsthand. PPT is not known to cause any significant problems.

• Accessibility. PPT allows alternative text to be built into presentations. This lets screen readers access the information. Prezi is not ADA/ 508 compliant and has been deemed an “inaccessible service” by Web2Access.

So when could Prezi shine as an eLearning tool? Personally, I think it would be a great tool for brainstorming, or “mind mapping.” . This makes sense given the “white board” metaphor it works off of. It could also be useful for group projects and getting your learners to try a new approach, especially if they’re used to PPT. Its zooming navigation also lends itself to demonstrations of concepts that are, literally, inside one another. Zooming into a human body to examine organs, or looking at the parts of an atom, for example.

Ultimately, the decision of which program to use is a matter of preference for the type of content being presented. Your association may even experiment with using both. As long as a presentation is well-crafted it can be effective no matter what tool is used to create it. Both are designed to be presentation aids, but PPT has more components that make it useful for authoring self-paced eLearning materials. Prezi, however, has built-in social learning components and could be a fabulous tool for activities. What do you think?

If you’d like to learn more about custom eLearning course creation from Digitec Interactive, visit our eLearning page.

If you’d like to read more about instructional design best practices, check out the rest of this author’s blogs.

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