The article, “Add Pizzazz to That Research Paper with Prezi!” is about the supplemental use of the online digital-authoring tool Prezi in a language arts classroom. Middle school students were required to create an outline and then write a research paper; they then created a Prezi based off of the same initial outline, including images, video and text. “Prezi is a virtual whiteboard that transforms presentations from monologues into conversations, enabling viewers to see, understand and remember ideas. It mixes images and words to create a visual story with flow and narrative.” Authors Peters and Hopkins first assessed the impact of Prezi on students’ content knowledge prior to the Prezis being created but after the students had written their research papers. A post-Prezi assessment revealed that students’ overall comprehension of their topics increased by 30%. “More than 50% of the students demonstrated growth in their knowledge of their topic after completing their Prezis. Of the students who demonstrated growth, the average amount of growth after developing the Prezi was more than 65%.”
One of the more interesting aspects of this article for me was the massive growth in parent and guardian attendance at student-led parent conferences where students got to debut their Prezis. Previous conferences had attendance rates of less than 20%, while the Prezi conferences had 95% attendance. Some kids even brought extended family. I think that the excitement that this kind of technology brings to the kids is infectious; in this particular case, students were able to share their Prezis with several other families in addition to their own, as the conferences were grouped with several students in each, subsequently helping to begin building a “learning community.” This alone would be reason to use Prezi in my own classroom.
Using Prezi allowed students to demonstrate research and information fluency and critical thinking skills, as well as their grasp of technology operations and concepts. There was a demonstration of communication skills, as students presented virtually and orally to their peers, as well as to a larger audience. The authors pointed out that they may have introduced Prezi prior to the writing of the research papers, to expand the knowledge base ahead of the papers. I think that might be a wise idea, though the resulting growth in comprehension and knowledge does not warrant a change in strategy.
Read the article here: Add Pizzazz to That Research Paper with Prezi!
Peters, T. and Hopkins, K. (2013) Add pizzazz to that research paper with Prezi! Learning &Leading with Technology, 40(8), 36-37.