Here are five sites that each offer a specific purpose and tool set for your face-to-face or online presentation needs. From the most basic (showing an image), to the more sophisticated (multimedia mashups), all of these sites can be used by students and instructors to effectively convey content and foster engagement.
Keeping It Basic
Drop Mocks works with your Google account and is perhaps the simplest tool I’ve seen yet. All you do is just drag your image file on to the web browser screen and…. viola! Your presentation is born. If you don’t think anything is that easy, just watch this demo. Each Drop Mock generates a URL for easy sharing. I appreciate the simplicity and recommend Drop Mocks when you need to create an image-based slide show on the fly. Also, this is a fairly easy tool for young children to use too.
At this time, Drop Mocks only works in the latest versions of Google Chrome or Firefox 4. Also, you can only use common image file formats such as jpg, png, gif, and tiff. Each drop mock generates a URL for easy sharing, but no embed codes at this time. Despite this, it’s still pretty easy and slick.
Moving Beyond Slides
Prezi was the belle of the ball in 2010 and it seems everyone is still buzzing about this alternative presentation tool. This Prezi ,created by Adam Somlai-Fischer, is both a great prezi example that explains how Prezi’s are different than traditional slideshows. Overall, Prezi allows you to break a way from bulleted text and sequential viewing of your slides. You can still use images (and bulleted text) and you can even embed video. If you work best brainstorming and organizing with mind maps, then Prezi may feel very fluid and natural to you.
Check out this Learning to Play Math Prezi to get a feel of the potential of Prezi.
Media Mashups Made Easy
I did a review of VuVox last week (full review here). In summary, VuVox lets you do a lot, without needing a lot of high-tech know-how. Students and teachers can generate impressive multimedia collages and panoramas of their work. VuVox can easily import RSS feeds, and your photo collections from Flickr, Picasa, and Smug Mug. Add soundtracks and annotate your creations with comments and links to other websites. I find at its core, you can do a lot with VuVox , whether its making a static presentation, or creating interactive content. View an example from the NIHF STEM School in Akron, Ohio or one about Second Life.
Amplify Your Existing Slides
myBrainShark is the individual, free version, of the Brainshark product suite. Brainshark allows you to upload PowerPoints, MS Word documents, and pictures that you can then narrate and share with friend, co-workers, students, etc (you get the point). The site also provides a podcast and video recording option too. And….drum roll please, you can add your Prezi into Brainshark too. Brainshark is a great option if you are looking to personalize and add audio to your work, but do not require responses or audio feedback from your viewers. This is an excellent tool for students to generate presentations in as well. Presenters can even record audio by calling in on their phones. The downside: to use the free version you must leave your content viewable to the public.
Engage and Interact
I describe VoiceThread as an “audio/visual discussion board.” I often turn to Voicethreads when needing to facilitate discussion about a topic. This is a favorite site for educators desiring a way to create more engagement, interaction, and feedback on academic work. This is also an excellent tool for students to present their own content and solicit feedback.
Unlike the previous examples, Voicethread really is a service that you load your pre-designed content into (usually developed in PowerPoint, but PDFs, image files, documents, and movie files). So while you are not authoring content from scratch in Voicethread, you are using Voicethread to enhance the learning experience by engaging viewers in direct conversation and interaction throughout the piece. Because of its audio and video features, many people forget that Voicethread is a not live broadcasting tool. Comments are recorded and listened to at the viewers convenience. Voicethreads can be made public or private, making this a great choice in the education community. Some excellent examples include of Voicethread include:
There are many, many, more presentations tools to consider. While this posting was more focused on visual and interactive options, other educator favorites include Google Presentation (part of Google docs) and Slideshare for posting Powerpoints for viewing. In the next year expect to see some new releases that blend social media features into the presentation experience. I am particularly looking forward to testing Storify.