Classroom Presentations Without PowerPoint

Tuesday, April 8, 2014 -- Scott Sterling

We’ve all been in the faculty meeting or professional development training where the speaker isn’t engaging enough, the data is too obtuse, and the PowerPoint slide deck seems to go on forever. Unfortunately, PowerPoint has become so ubiquitous with giving presentations that very few are willing to go out of the box.

Don’t let your classroom fall into this trap. Here are some options other than PowerPoint to make your presentations pop. Feel free to share these with your students as well; they’re even more likely to take the easy way out with PowerPoint rather than get creative with their own presentations.

Prezi

By now, many people have heard of Prezi, so much so that its own presentation style sometimes draws groans from the audience. If you have students who are prone to motion sickness, this is not for you. But if not, the Prezi method is much more engaging than PowerPoint.

You build your presentation much like PowerPoint, but instead of being organized into slides, your points are placed on one big board (think a giant digital whiteboard). As you run through your presentation, Prezi jumps, zooms, and spins its way around your data like an animated infographic. Apps are also available for iOS so you can blow down your presentations to your students so they can follow along on their own devices.

Nearpod

Speaking of their own devices, Nearpod is completely revolutionizing classroom presentations on multiple levels. It’s as if a good PowerPoint presentation and an LMS had a baby for the BYOD environment!

First, you create multimedia presentations that also include some assessments and other neat toys. Then you blow it down to the students’ devices and set whether you want them to follow along with your lecture or work at their own pace. As they move through, summative assessments check their understanding. You look at the results, in real time, so you know whether to double back on a point or concept. Not only can this work in the classroom, but it could be a great solution for flipping.

Poll Everywhere

The worst thing about the typical PowerPoint presentation is that, when in the hands of a novice speaker, they are the least interactive outlet you can imagine. The person just sits there and reads slides to you. No feedback. No questions until the end, please.

Poll Everywhere solves that problem without you having to stop and entertain questions every minute (we know how kids are). Using texts, it allows you to conduct polls during your presentation, both as a gauge of understanding and as a simple measure of interest. Much like you’ve seen on TV, the students text a certain number with a keyword and the results are shown in real time. The results screens are even embeddable in PowerPoint.