For Philip‘s and my presentation of our IST 613 project plan (pdf), we decided to be adventurous and create our presentation using Prezi (“the zooming presentation editor”) rather than PowerPoint.

First, let me disclaim that the creation of such a tool is far beyond my abilities, and for both concept and the coding of the tool, I give the creators utmost admiration. Also, Prezi presentations just look way cooler than Powerpoint– they’re exciting, refreshing! That said, I think Prezi is the worst piece of software I have ever used. What would have taken us an hour to create in PowerPoint took 10 hours in Prezi, and we even tried it on both Mac and PC, Firefox and IE, desktop and online. I have never felt like a program was trying to actively sabotage my work before!

On the surface, it has a fairly intuitive interface, so that’s nice. It just that…

  • I couldn’t tell what level zoom I had to be in to make things the right size and placement;
  • often trying to select an object to move it resulted in zooming further and further away;
  • the scale option of the”Zebra tool” seems to only make things bigger (much, much, much bigger) and never smaller;
  • there’s no ability to copy/paste text in the desktop version;
  • at close-up zoom levels, it becomes almost impossible to pan around;
  • and quite frequently I was unable to see the text I was typing due to the text window getting in the way of itself or the text (for reasons unknown) was making its initial appearance somewhere off to the side of the box or maybe it was just because it wasn’t midnight under a full moon in a leap year. Who knows.

Perhaps we were just using the wrong tool for the job. Perhaps our presentation’s content did not really need all the animation and pizazz of Prezi. Even with just basic text, though, I had ideas to make parts of it nifty that the software just did not cooperate well enough for me to follow through on. E.g., I wanted to put each item for Technology & Tools of Assessment in a circular pattern– even once a basic, sort-of circle was made, I needed to create frames around each word so the presentation would be properly centered on each on, none of which would size properly nor center around the words. I gave up and went linear after all.

I like the results… I just don’t think I ever want to deal with the procedure of getting those results again any time soon. I’m left with the impression that it’s not so much a matter of skill in getting Prezi to do what you envision as it is–well, I’m not even sure how much luck factors in, really.

Our presentation can be viewed here, though the file alone is not particularly helpful without the context of the full project and our spoken parts.

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