Prezi for teaching essay structure

This is a bit of a retro post, but I think it has possibilities. I can see a use for Prezi as a teaching tool in addition to just being a presentation tool. The following is what I wrote just after I discovered it…

I’m looking at Prezi and how it presents information. I realise I need to be more aware of the similarities and differences between conventional academic writing and the variation in Prezi presentation possibilities. There is a linear narrative through both styles, but the difference is the linear visual presentation on paper in contrast to the varying geographical location on a Prezi page. This variation can assist in pointing out the grouping of related concepts. I highlighted the words ‘in contrast to’ because that was the moment I thought, if this were in a Prezi, then those words would be on their own to highlight the contrast, and not be embedded in the sentence where the skilled reader would clearly see them, but the less skilled reader might miss them. I wonder what effect this would have on teaching students to write. Just like this blog, the Prezi writing style seems to be characterized by a more conversational tone.

From watching tutorials on Prezi I see how they follow the structure of concept maps where key words and linking relationships are expressed as the central messages. The opportunity to use different size scales also facilitates being able draw attention to a particular point. Frames allow structure to be organized visually without having to make the written words in a sentence do all the work.

Figure 1 shows an essay displayed in Prezi a basic essay structure outline (left), and example essay (centre) and an analysis of one of the body paragraphs (right). The topic sentences and conclusion sentences highlighted.

Figure 1.

Example of an essay structure with highlights for topic and conclusion sentences

There is a slide show for the break down of the body paragraph. By separating the parts of the paragraph spatially, students may be able to see how a paragraph is made up of different sections from the topic sentence, to supporting detail and to the conclusion sentence.

Part of the limitation of Prezi in teaching essay structure is the limited use of colour options for arrows and markers. This would make it difficult to highlight other sections of the essay. Then again, for the purpose of keeping things simiple, that might be a good idea.

I will test the use of this out with my student to see if they find it more helpful for their understanding of essay structure.

Feel free to look at the whole prezi.

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About kayhammond68

Academic Development Lecturer. Staff to one spoiled cat.
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