Gamification: 3 Reasons to Try It

Gamification is a huge buzz word in higher education. It is essentially the incorporation of game-design elements into non-game contexts. Gamification can be attained with a wide degree of technological immersion: from hand-held printable QR codes like Plickers to full-scale Virtual or Augmented reality. In higher education, gamification is praised for its ability to engage students and promote deeper learning. Especially in online or hybrid courses, gamification holds the potential to transition learners from passive to active participants (See Kaufmann, Reflection: Benefits of Gamification in Online Higher Education, 2018).

Here are some compelling reasons to try it today!

1.High Tech or Low Tech- Gamification doesn’t require a great deal of technical expertise. Game design can be achieved with just a template and a PowerPoint. The success of the exercise lies in the commitment to the theme and not the technology used. That said, if you’re comfortable with technology, there are a wide range of online resources from Socrative’s Space Race to simulated immersion scenarios, like 360 immersive used for EMS training.


Socrative Space Race

2.Save Time with Templates– The best part of the uptake of gamification is the fact that many other higher education professionals are also attempting to incorporate these designs into their classrooms. There are a number of templates available online for a wide variety of games. Pick the game you want to emulate and start searching! Easy game-design templates include: jeopardy, board games, leader boards, and (coming soon to ATSU) virtual escape rooms.


Great Group Games “Jeopardy Powerpoint Template”

3.Keep your Learners on their Toes– The best way to keep learners engaged is to change the ways in which they interact with the material. This means that you don’t need to incorporate gamification into every class. In fact, using it infrequently will increase the impact of these novel game-based elements and help your students to build novel and concrete association between the content and the game.



Zoom Meeting Guidelines

Given how pervasive online meetings are, it makes sense to want to recreate the interactive capabilities of in-person meetings. Here are FIVE tips and tricks using Zoom to help make your meeting feel more engaging.


  1. One Person per Square

Why? I know this sounds a little bizarre, and sometimes your friend has a quieter office or better camera. Studies show that we are more likely to weigh in and treat the participants as equals if we are all the same SIZE. This way we all get to see your pretty faces and no one has to fight for camera time.


  1. Keep your Mic and Your Video ON

We know that you like to multitask, but you wouldn’t hold a separate conversation or fall asleep in an in-person meeting. To keep everyone accountable the Host will be manually turning on your video and microphone. Of course if you need to eat feel free to mute temporarily, but try to consciously stay engaged by thinking about how your actions would be read if the people in the conference were sitting around a table in front of you.


  1. Switch the Zoom to Gallery View

There are 3 video layouts when someone is not sharing a screen and two when someone is. Please for either option turn on the Gallery view. This will allow you to see as many participants as possible all at once. This way you can read the participants for social cues, know when someone is about to speak, or even physically raise your hand if you want to be heard.


  1. Allow Annotation

Another cool feature of Zoom is that when applicable you can allow all participants to annotate on a shared screen. This is great for brainstorming sessions, or to have the group highlight areas that they think are significant (creating a virtual heat map).


  1. Save time for a Group Activity

One of the best things about Zoom is the cool features it offers. You can change your background to a quick green screen or you can make a collaborative team picture or collage at the end of each meeting. This can take time, but as long as the meeting leader directs each person in their video square to show a color, make a shape, etc… and then takes a screen capture of what they can see it becomes a fun team-building exercise. Better yet, no one has the same view as the team leader, so they won’t know what the final picture looks like until it is sent to everyone at the end of the meeting.

4 Great Ways to Use QR Codes

QR (quick response) codes are automatically generated codes that can contain URLs, text or other forms of digital information that can be accessed simply by scanning the code. QR codes can effectively convey large amounts of information within a very small, yet recognizable image. QR generators and QR scanners are free and fairly pervasive, so adding QR codes to your teaching arsenal should be painless.

Here are four examples of how to use QR codes in clinical education:

1. Add quick links to supplemental online materials

Supplemental resources and bibliographies can be multiple pages long. By linking them into your documents through a QR code, you save space and paper. More importantly, by posting the supplemental materials online, you can link directly to library resources and turn them into a stand-alone resource.

2. Make your bibliography in your vodcast clickable

Without extensive editing software and experience, adding clickable links to a video can be time-consuming and difficult. If you want to be able to add links to external resources directly from a video you can simply add a QR code into your slides. This method is also universally device-accessible, so you won’t need to worry about access issues.

3. Add QR codes to work areas, labs, or in a clinical setting for more detailed instructions

QR codes work well convey large amounts of information with very little surface area. Although QR codes are traditionally used to make digital information accessible in non-digital environments, they work well to make information in general accessible. Adding a QR code to a work area or clinical setting can keep procedural information secure (you can password protect the links) and can make reference or procedural information quickly available.

4. Insert a QR code into a presentation

Brain Rules, by John Medina, suggests that you should consider adding something dynamic into your presentation every 10 minutes to re-capture the attention of your students’ brains. Adding a QR code into a lecture that links to case studies, resources, or supplemental materials, and asking your students to find and explore those resources can help shift and re-energize your students’ focus. QR codes also work well for assessments because they let you skip the longer process of having to display a lengthy URL and walk the entire class through entering it.


5 Visual Design Best Practices for your Online Lecture

We’ve taken the E-Learing Blog’s 5 Visual Presentation Mistakes and made them relevant for the online lecture.

1: Scale Your Images

This should be an easy fix, but be careful when you drag images to re-size them. Keeping the original scale of your images helps to create clear, engaging visuals.

scale image from corner to maintain aspect ratio

The fix is to drag it from the corner to scale it and preserve its aspect ratio. It most apps, you hold the SHIFT key and drag to keep it locked while you scale it up or down.

2: Help your Audience Focus, Visually

Using bolded font, or a clear design to focus the eye helps make important information stand out on your slides. Without bolded or larger font, your students will scan across the screen in a Z pattern. You can use this tendency to help organize your information, but try to use large chunks of text without a focus piece sparingly.

z pattern when scanning screen

Here are two good fixes:

3: Keep a Consistent Visual Style

Try not to overload your slides with a massive mix of font colors, sizes and slide designs. Sticking with an overall color scheme can help to tie in your presentation as a cohesive unit.

Other elements of visual inconsistency are:

style guide for e-learning


4: Create Visual Hierarchy

This ties in to point number two, but ensure that key themes and points in your lecture are given the same amount of weight. This will help to establish them as thematic elements.

visual hierarchy adds context and makes it easier to scan

The e-Learning Blog recommends  creating a simple style guide with headings, sub-headings, and body text.

5:  Align your Content

Without a clear set of organization or alignment your presentation can look sloppy. As a rule of thumb try to keep your items justified and aligned beneath your central title, or centered down the middle.

alignment woes in e-learning

This is easy to fix:

  • Have consistent margins.
  • Align objects, left justified is the most common. If you switch the justification, have a reason why.
  • Extra space between groups helps communicate that they’re grouped.
  • A lot of people use a grid system to keep onscreen objects aligned.


modern record machine player with creative commons text

The Sound of Teaching: Soundtracks and their Pitfalls

I frequently mention that YouTube and TedTalks have greatly impacted student expectations for what an e-lecture should look and sound like. There is a wealth of research on the apparently short attention span of students, so it is hardly surprising that short, flashy twenty minute topic-talks are starting to make their way into academic best practices. One common practice of the YouTube genre is the addition of low key soundtracks. These soundtracks play throughout the video, hiding edited pauses for breath, and generally bringing the content together by providing an interwoven emotional pull. But before you rush off to download your all time favorite soundtracks, let’s have a frank discussion about copyright.

Copyright and Lecture Soundtracks

Copyright and the music industry come hand in hand. Edited content on social media mainstays like Instagram and Facebook can still be removed for copyright infringement. YouTube also closely monitors uploaded content for copyrighted audio. For the average e-lecture, especially one hosted on Blackboard and behind the ATSU firewalls, you’d be right in thinking that your content is probably protected by educational Fair Use . That said, what happens when you want to share your content? How can you upload a sample lecture to YouTube or embed it on a personal website without creating potential liability?

I make no claims to be a Copyright expert. But I do monitor some of the best practices of educational content producers because I am a huge advocate of establishing a public, academic presence outside the classroom. Even behind the educational firewall, I’d recommend using music that is not as strictly monitored in case you ever want to re-use your content. How can you skirt copyright? By finding creative commons music that has been created specifically to be used “freely”.  I say “freely” because there are multiple layers of creative commons licences: some require attribution- allowing you to use the content as you see fit so long as you credit the original artist. Others come with conditions- that you must make your content open for use, or that you must not change or edit the content you are borrowing. Some require that your work be non-commercial. You can find an complete license list and explanation for the types of creative commons licences at the creative commons organization site.

You’ve made the decision to start using Creative Commons music- what’s next?

First, you have to find the perfect soundtrack. I’d recommend using Free Music Archive . This site allows you to search free or creative commons music, but be warned the process to find the right track can take some time. For the Free Music Archive I’d recommend starting by searching for Ambient, Instrumental or Electronic music. From there, you can use the search bar to get an advanced search where you can select “only instrumental” tracks and you can narrow down the creative commons licences. I’d recommend public domain or creative commons: attribution only (Remember to cite your music source if you choose the latter). After that you’ll have to click on a few tracks to find one that will work.

After you’ve found the perfect track, you can download the mp4 and add it to your presentation.

Top tips:

  1. Remember to add the attribution if the license requires it
  2. Keep the volume of your soundtrack consistently low- you don’t want it to take away from your content


Snapchat Glasses- A New Clinical Education Tool?

Snapchat recently announced the launch of their Google Glass alternative “Snapchat Spectacles.” These $129.99 glasses record 115* HD pictures and videos  from the viewer’s perspective from a wide lens camera to create a relatively high definition panoramic. These cameras interface directly with Snapchat storing video until you are in Wi-Fi range. More importantly, the interface is designed to show the videos in their original recording position, regardless of how the screen they are viewed in is tilted. This anchoring feature is similar to the 360* picture and videos that Facebook supports.

So how could the next wearable technology fad help in clinical settings? The improved video capture and direct interface with the viewing software for mainstream audiences suggests that this technology will soon be widely accessible. The 115 degree HD video from a user’s perspective could be an invaluable tool for perspective-based training. Although Snapchat is not a platform we’d recommend using for training, the concept of teaching within 90 seconds, or a longer video that combines the 90 second snaps, helps to transform educational information into small, manageable pieces. For now you can download your snaps from Snapchat and edit them into a LMS compatible video. We’d recommend keeping an eye out for future uses of these or similar video capture glasses that will allow you to record longer videos in the same 115 degree HD quality.


20 of our Favorite Student Resources (that are 100% free)

Sometimes you just need a little extra help outside the classroom. We’ve compiled a list of 20 of our favorite software and apps that are designed to make your life a little bit easier. We know you are already paying tuition so these resources are 100% free!

Note Taking:

One of the great advantages of taking digital notes is that you can search them when you need to review. We prefer note taking software that syncs across multiple platforms and allows you to incorporate images or multi-media to make your notes as detailed as you want! Many of these platforms also let you share your notes with your peers.

Our top pics:

1. Evernote imgres

Evernote syncs across all your devices. It is great for to-do lists, pictures or class notes. We strongly suggest you use the desktop version if you are planning on taking detailed notes.

Evernote is searchable and will let you share your notes easily. You can also set reminders through the app.

The downside: to store all your notes so that they can by synced across devices, Evernote makes you purchase Cloud space after its limit of uploads of up to 60 MB of data each month.

mendeley-desktop2. Mendeley

Mendeley is a note taking software that focuses more on academic use. It is designed primarily for desktop computers but it can be accessed on your mobile device or tablet. It combines a robust note taking interface with a reference manager, PDF annotator, and content organizer.

Mendeley will sync your notes so you can access them remotely and it will date your entries in case you need to find notes for a specific class later. Mendeley also offers the ability to securely share papers, notes and annotations..

The downside: As with all cloud storage services, Mendely is only free for 2 GB of space.

3. Journler  18214

Journler is a fantastic freeware for Macs that combines multi-media notes and a really great organizational structure. Journler will support audio, video, images, PDFs, and websites within your notes. It will also help you make file folders and will date all your notes. Journler offers an easy way to tag your notes for future review as well.

To share your notes you can easily export them to a PDF.

The downside: Journler doesn’t sync across multiple devices and it is only available for apple computers. It is, however, 100% free no matter how much file space you use.

unnamed4. MyScript Smart Note & Nebo

MyScript Smart Note is an app that lets you write, sketch and annotate images. It has a robust OCR capability so it will transform your notes to text to make them searchable.

MyScript Smart Note also allows you to store your notes in your Dropbox or Google Drive, so you will never need to pay for storage. It also syncs with Evernote.

The downside: The free version only includes 10 pages and only lets you share your notes as text (rather than as a PDF).



5. EasyBib easybib

EasyBib is a free bibliography generator. It allows you to search for books, articles or journals and helps you format your references in the correct format. By creating a free account it will save your references.

EasyBib is also a fantastic digital image citation reference. It offers an app and add-ons for Chrome and Google Docs.

mendeley-desktop6. Mendeley

Mendeley isn’t just a great note taking tool, it also offers Bibliography help. It can be installed into your browser or Word document. It will help you make your bibliography (and format it correctly) in Word.


7. EndNote endnote

EndNote offers a free, but limited, online service to create bibliographies and save your references. It also offers a “manuscript matcher” to help you identify journals for future publication. EndNote, however, primarily caters to its downloadable desktop and mobile software subscription service.

refme-logo8. RefMe

For a quick bibliography aid, RefMe is a great app that lets you scan the barcode of the book or journal you are reading and produces its bibliographical information. It will also help you cite websites directly from your mobile device or tablet’s browser. RefMe will also save your growing bibliography, organize your citations, and share reading lists or projects.


File Sharing:

9. Google Drive google-drive

Google drive should probably be your go-to file sharing method. It is secure and since your ATSU email comes with a drive account you won’t need to sign up for yet another service or remember another password.

The default sharing settings for documents shared in your ATSU drive is to allow any ATSU member with the link to access your document. You may want to keep this in mind if you have a group member who prefers to use a different email address or if you want to add boosted privacy settings.

Google Drive now offers a mobile app and has a desktop extension.

dropbox.png10. DropBox

If your google drive is full of documents and you are looking for something more organized you may want to try DropBox. DropBox documents can be accessed on your computer, mobile device, or online. However after you surpass 2GB of space you will have to buy a DropBox subscription. DropBox far surpasses Google Drive in the usability of its organization set up.

11. Documents (by Readdle) documents-by-readdle

Documents is a mobile app that allows you to open files in a variety of file formats. It also allows you to annotate uploaded PDFs. Documents offers a desktop version to allow you to download and organize files and folders. It also contains a built-in media player so you can keep lectures or animations in one place for quick access.


photo12. Flipboard

Flipboard calls itself your personal magazine. It essentially works as a visual RSS feed, allowing you to browse current and relevant news from trusted publishers. More importantly, you can “collect” articles, videos and images you think are relevant and share them with your peers. Flipboard is a great way to keep articles you find that are relevant to your career or that you want to share in a discussion board.

Librarian Pro Tip: We’d highly recommend using Flipboard with Browzine! Browzine will alert you to new articles published by journals you can access from the library and Flipboard will help you look for connections in the media.

12. Diigo diigo-icon

Diigo is a social bookmarking resource that will allow you to organize, annotate, and share articles, webpages and other online resources. Diigo has a fantastic built-in discussion board, but it is also a great way to keep track of a wide variety of information sources online.

web-whiteboard13. A Web Whiteboard

A web whiteboard is just that: a touch-friendly whiteboard and app that lets you draw AND collaborate on projects. The free version won’t let you save your board, so these are best for impromptu online planning sessions, study groups, or anything that you don’t plan on having to go back and edit later. That said, with some of the screen saving software mentioned near the end of the list you can always save your images and come back to them later.

Flash cards:

14.Brainscape best-apps-for-french-teachers2

If you want smart flashcards Brainscape is definitely the way to go. Brainscape uses tested algorithms to help improve your studying by creating a pattern for your concepts that reacts to how well you know them. Brainscape offers certified subject flashcards as well as an option to create your own, or search other user-created cards. Brainscape is free, however they lock some pre-created subject areas to motivate you to purchase a subscription.


Chegg is one of the better recognized producers of apps for university students. Their Flashcards+ lets you make and study flashcards on your mobile device. More importantly, they allow you to incorporate images. Chegg also offers a fairly decent set of pre-made flashcards in various subject areas.

If you haven’t heard of Chegg you may want to check out Chegg’s textbook rental service that can occasionally help you save money on required texts. 


16. todoist todoist

Todoist is an all-platform tool to let you keep track of tasks and collaborate on projects. The software will send you notifications and help you visualize your productivity. This software is a great way to stay on top of assignments and work in groups to delegate tasks.

17.175x175bb iStudiezLite 
iStudiezLite is an iOS only tool to help you keep track of your class schedule, assignments and general calendar. It also integrates with any grading system (think Blackboard) to let you know your grades and the assignments you have coming up.


18. XMind xmind-icon

If you prefer to organize your ideas and thoughts in a Mind Map, we highly recommend XMind. Their free version doesn’t come with clip art, but you can always supply your own. More importantly you can make as many Mind Maps as you want using their free version. X Mind integrates int Office and PDF and exports in a variety of formats, you can also save it to Evernote.


Screen Capture:

If you have an apple computer you probably can ignore these last 2 entries. If you didn’t know already Command + Shift +4 will allow you to select an area of your screen to take a screenshot. (Command +Shift+3 will take the entire screen).

jing_logo219. Jing

If you don’t have a mac, or if you want to be able to edit your screenshots before they are saved Jing is a great option. Jing can record pictures and videos of your scree and it is completely free! It is easy to use, and a great resource if you want to save images, group work, or stills from a class video for your notes.

20. Jump Cut jumpcut.png

Have you ever copied some important text and then before you could paste it ended up copying something else? Jump Cut is designed to help you access all the information you’ve cut and copied. Unfortunately Jump Cut requires an OS (mac) computer, but it can certainly help save some time when you are trying to put together flashcards or other study materials!

Have a favorite app that isn’t on here? Let us know!

Green Screen in the online lecture- how to make it work

First, lets be clear about WHY you’d want to add a green screen component to some of your lectures. It isn’t just because green screen is a pretty neat cutting edge technology. Let’s face it a homemade green screen isn’t exactly going to be cinematic quality. If you’re planning on moving quickly along your backdrop green screen is probably not the right technology for you.

So why would we want to implement a green screen? Essentially to boost student engagement. Johns Hopkins University Professor Ronald A. Berk argues that “multimedia learning provides an empirical foundation for their use in teaching… to increase memory, comprehension, understanding, and deeper learning” (Berk 14). Scholarship suggests that varying the format of lectures can improve student engagement. Another study on medical education and multimedia suggests that digital visuals can help students engage and later re-use the content (Bashet 871). Especially for online lectures, adding a green screen can boost engagement and make your lecture more memorable.




You really have two choices setting up a green screen:

  1. Do you want to project yourself over an image of your slide (or an image of the related material). I like to call this the “Weatherman Effect“. It essentially allows you to point out important features of a slide and generally direct student attention to the areas you are discussing.
  2.  You can use green screen for comedic effect. Suddenly propelling yourself into outerspace or onto the beach can grab student’s attention and re-focus it. It shouldn’t become your status quo unless you want to give your lectures a quirky, unusual quality. You’ll know if you are the kind of teacher who can pull that off.

Just keep these concepts in mind when you’re ready to start recording.



You will need:

A Zoom Membership – ATSU provides FREE Zoom Pro memberships so you’re already half way there!

A blank backdrop – I’d highly recommend buying a green backdrop. You can get them from Amazon for less than $15 and it means you don’t have to coordinate your outfit.

Pro tip: make sure you don’t wear clothing that is the same color as your backdrop or you will fade into it.

A video recording device– with the zoom app for your phone this could be a smart phone, a built-in laptop camera OR a usb camera.



(Just kidding!) The process to set this up should be fairly easy!

  1. Export the slides or backdrops you want into separate image files that you can easily find. (I take screen shots on my phone or I export my powerpoint to a PDF and save individual pages as JPEGs from there).
  2. Login to Zoom and go to Settings.
    1. You’ll see an option for changing your Backround
    2. if you don’t see this option contact IT to make sure they remembered to set you up with a Zoom Pro account
  3. Upload your images into your Zoom and open an empty conference room
  4. Record your zoom session using the different backgrounds (you can change backgrounds directly from your settings while the video is still running!)
  5. Import these videos into your lecture OR splice them into your lecture videos. (I’d recommend the latter)

You can find a quick tutorial for this process on the ETDC’s YouTube.

Questions? Contact the ETDC if you need help with this process!

Bashet, A., Kirchhoff, C. & D’Alba, A. (2015). “Effects of Multimedia Video in Learning Human Anatomy”. In D. Rutledge & D. Slykhuis (Eds.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference 2015 (pp. 871-876).

Beck, Ronald A. (2009). “Multimedia teaching with video clips: TV, movies, YouTube, and mtvU in the college classroom”. International Journal of Technology in Teaching and Learning, 5(1), 1–21.

Make it a #SocialMediaMonday

Everyone is talking about the best practices for Flipped Classrooms these days. I’ve even seen some excellent arguments for calling a ‘Flipped Classroom’ a Modern Classroom and the pedagogical model we were taught in a “Retro-Classroom”. Check out Andrew Douchy’s Blog post on this topic here. Teachers KNOW that technology offers them opportunities to boost student engagement and that they can ask their students to watch online material before class to make better use of the actual in-class time. With our clinical focus, flipped classrooms are more appealing than ever because they cater to the idea that time spent in class could be spent entirely on practice-based learning.


ATSU is at the forefront of current Medical Education trends, because their medical students spend only their first year on campus. From there they are assigned to various clinics to continue their practice on-site and their education online. But how can professors assess how well their students are understanding, engaging with, and incorporating what they are learning into their lives? I’m a big fan of using online polling (and accompanying analytics) for in-class analysis, but I want to go even further and suggest teachers start incorporating Social Media into their classrooms.


Why Social Media?

Social Media is appealing because students share it with the world. Teaching your students to be critical about their online presence is a definite plus. It also makes your students more invested in what they publish because it is visible outside the classroom. Students can choose to create a professional/academic account or post to their personal account. Either choice comes with distinct benefits. Sharing on a personal account deepens the student’s roots with his or her community. Students will find that friends or family members comment upon their posts and extent their involvement deeper into their everyday lives.  Sharing on a professional account primes the student for later inter-professional work, creating lasting social ties with colleagues or future mentors.


How do you get them involved?

Edutopia recently posted about “Makergrams”– using Instagram’s 1 minute videos to tell their stories. Upgrading this concept to the medical, graduate level- students can produce 1 minute videos outlining points of care, patient followup, or even 1 minute overviews of a class concept. These videos can be as informal or formal as your student wants. There are so many high-quality video editing apps available, that your student shouldn’t feel like he or she cannot produce publishable material.

The logistics:

To track student work you may want to encourage them to use a class-focused hashtag. Creating a unique hashtag will help you find student content quickly AND it will automatically create an archive of material students may want to return to later.

You’ll need to set down clear guidelines and expectations. Do you want students to comment on one another’s posts? If so you need to make sure that students use a platform like Instagram rather than Facebook so that they have the choice of creating a second account.

You will also need to make sure the student makes his or her account open to the public. The entire point of this exercise is to make he content the student produces accessible by the public so that they interact with interested parties beyond just their cohort.

Finally, and this is optional, you can make an account to re-post or re-tweet the student posts that you want to share. Sharing them in-class keeps students engaged, but there is always an added distinction for student-produced work to be re-circulated on your professional or class-based social media account.

Why #SocialMediaMonday ?

Student engagement is almost always improved when students feel like their instructor is interested in what they produce. Use #SocialMediaMonday as a way to look over the previous week and highlight student-produced videos or tweets. Starting each class highlighting student work will not only make students feel like their work is valuable (and should be high enough quality that they don’t mind that it is shared with their peers), it will also serve as a quick review session for the topics covered the week before.

Prezi vs. Power Point

Although there are quite a few very good presentation software available for instructors, the decision frequently comes down between Prezi and PowerPoint. This post is designed to help you determine which is better for YOUR presentation. Although you can use them both to achieve similar results, I’ll be comparing the two for :

  • accessibility
  • exportability
  • inclusion
  • engagement

By accessibility I mean how easy is the software to use. This includes any additional hardware you might need, and how well can you upload written or visual content you’ve made elsewhere. With exportability I am looking at how easily can they export content to be shared. This is an often overlooked feature of a presentation software that causes issues once you’ve created your project. Knowing how you want to share your presentation (live stream, online link, YouTube video, upload to blackboard, etc… should play into which software you make it with. My last two criteria are designed for judging additional features a software offers to make it interactive.  Inclusion indicates how well it can include multimedia. This includes embedded videos, links and other resources you might want to navigate to without exiting the program. Finally engagement looks at how the software enhances a student’s experience and how interactive it can be. This includes quizzing components as well as the general format of the presentation.

Pick Your Presentation

Picking the Presentation Software that is right for YOU!


Both Prezi and PowerPoint boast high accessibility. They’re interfaces that are designed to work for someone with limited PowerPoint slide creation experience. Both set up their designs in a fairly linear timeline, that can be manipulated visually. Prezi and PowerPoint allow the user to drag and drop components where they want them and have shortcuts to make uploading content easier.



How do you prefer to export your presentation? Prezi exports easily to a URL which means you can share it, embed it, and have it accessible long after your BlackBoard course closes. PowerPoint is limited in the formats it can export to BUT because it has been a standard for presentations for so long many other software are designed to import PowerPoints. Depending on your preference you can also screen-record in which case how you export the presentation doesn’t matter!



What is exceptional about Prezi is its ability to embed content. You can play a link or a video from the presentation rather than having to navigate out. As a librarian I want to minimize the number of click-throughs it takes for my audience to see the content, but students are used to navigating to and from different content. It just depends on whether you want a seamless self-contained presentation or if you’d rather use the time that they navigate to outside sources to let them further explore those sources before they return to the presentation.



There is no single way to use these presentations, so engagement depends on how you make use of the advantages of each program. Prezi is engaging simply by design due to its non-linear format, but if you over-do the zooming feature you will have your students feeling dizzy rather than enthused. PowerPoint, again because it is a standard for presentation software, offers numerous add-ons such as quizzing functions.


Final Re-Cap

Both software are great for creating interactive presentations, but at the end of the day it comes down to 1. how you use them, 2. how comfortable you feel when you use them, and 3. how much time you want to spend on a presentation. Prezi is definitely more time consuming, but PowerPoint can be if you explore some of their add-ons. If student engagement is what you are aiming for, especially for an online course, I’d suggest swapping between the two. You can also use a screen-recording software like Camtasia to make your presentation come to life.