On the right track!
Back in January I explained my woes I had with Google Presentations (apart of Google Docs) and how horrible it went due to all the technical difficulties. Read the post and the comments here. At that time, I swore I would leave Google Docs and give Zoho a try, which is what I did, but I didn’t just stop there-oh no! I went further and threw Prezi in the mix since they added a collaborative component. Now everything didn’t go super smoothly, but it went well enough. Read on pas the break to see how my love of online collaboration was rekindled.
To recap, this was a partner project (only one group of three per class and no individuals), and they could not use PowerPoint. The goal of the project was how to create a quality presentation. I started by showing them Zoho Show and Prezi. Needless to say, they were all quite impressed with Prezi and its zooming features. Then I showed them how to share it with a partner. Zoho, is pretty straightforward, the other person needs a Zoho account and they can sign in using their Google account, Facebook account or Yahoo, and share it with their username. Once in, it is very similar to PowerPoint. You have a toolbar and it is quite familiar to them.
Prezi was a little different but just as easy. Both people needed a Prezi account, but due to the dynamic nature of Prezi, the other person showed up as a tiny avatar in the workspace. Cool huh. To get a better idea of what I’m talking about check out the video below.
Working with Zoho Show
Zoho Show is pretty straightforward and for the most part it worked very, very well. The only issue, was that sometimes, the shared document would just not update on the other screen. Other than that, the simple and familiar workspace allowed students to work without many technical questions. This was nice as their questions were primarily about the presentation itself. That’s what I was hoping semester 1. In short, Zoho was a success. The presentations didn’t look very flashy, but students were able to collaborate online and produce a solid presentation that displayed relevant information.
Working with Prezi
Most of my students went this route (in fact one whole class used Prezi) and it we had a little more trouble with Prezi. One big issue with Prezi, was we could not upload pictures to the presentation. This was a limitation of our server and not Prezi, so students needed to upload all the pictures from home, which was not an issue as it turned out. The Prezi Meeting function was pretty cool to see these little avatars zooming around, but we did have issues with some students not being able to update or ver slow updating of the document. Students worked around it and in the end made good looking, engaging presentations.
Sharing with me
On presentation day, students needed to share their presentations with me through Edmodo. This worked OK with Google Docs, but went without a hitch with both Zoho and Prezi. The presentations opened up quickly and everything worked quite well.
I asked my students (in a poll question) about whether they would use PowerPoint over the online presentation tools. The results are pretty drastic from first semester to second semester.
As you can see the number of students was the same and some of the comments I got from students on the second semester semester:
I like PowerPoint because it is easier
I like Prezi because I don’t have to save it to a USB
Because prezi saves online so you don’t need a usb or a place to save it. You know it won’t be lost.
Interestingly enough, students didn’t mention about working with each other or the ability to collaborate online. This could be that many students abandoned the online collabo-game and just worked off of one account or together (which is fine), or one person did all the work while the other sipped virgin margaritas by the pool. Either way it is something I need to look into.
While I’m not blasting Google Docs and I don’t want you to think that. Google Docs, simply does not work well in my school. I’m not entirely sure why and I’ve seen talk of other people having the same issues. What I’ve done it move onto to other resources that I feel work as well and in my case better than Google Docs. If you use Google Docs and are very happy I encourage you to check out the competition, but don’t change unless you see these work better for you. After all there’s no need to reinvent the wheel and if you’re anything like me, you have plenty on your plate already.
What was nice about this whole project was the technical issues were more or less erased and the students were able to focus on their presentations. Did they make great presentations? They were OK. They read too much from the screen and could of used more audience engagement, but at least I can now focus more about those issues and less about the technical issues. Certainly a big change from my experience first semester.
Thanks Prezi and Zoho!