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New presentation tools offer alternatives to PowerPoint slides

It would be redundant to state that many PowerPoint presentations are dull and boring. More pointedly, dull and boring to listen to, and perhaps dull and boring to create. It is really no fault of PowerPoint, as it is a very fine tool that has become the standard of presentation software choices around the world. The issue is how to make sharing information more exciting and engaging so that learning can be positively affected.

Simply sharing information is not sufficient in the media rich world of today. It is not just the substance of the content, but also in how it is presented. This can be likened to the old adage; it’s not just what you say, but also how you say it. How something is presented largely determines the impact. Presentations that are linear, static, and seemingly rote, tend to put the audience to sleep even when audience members are interested in the subject matter.

PowerPoint is still the 500 pound gorilla of presentation software, but there are many emerging alternatives. In learning situations where engagement and motivation are important, PowerPoint presentations have become the modern day filmstrip. To compound the issue, few really spend the time to master the depth of PowerPoint functions; hence, use it in a rudimentary way using just titles, bullets, and a few graphics to try and break the monotony.

The rise of technology integration in school curriculum has resulted in more student engagement with content. This requires students to analyze and synthesize subject material, and then create their own content. Much higher levels of learning are achieved when students create subject related content. To make the creation process efficient and productive, students need software tool sets that are simple to use so they don’t interfere with the core learning purpose, and are engaging enough to maintain interest. That is a tall order given the media rich world in which students live today.

Toss the PowerPoint option for a minute, and look at these three tools; VideoScribe, Powtoon, emaze. These three software tools offer exciting possibilities for students and teachers alike. They are visually engaging, relatively easy to use, and offer robust feature sets.

VideoScribe is a new breed of software that emulates writing on a white board with a dry erase marker or pen. The presentation can be narrated, or accompanied with background music. Pictures, images, graphs, or any kind of media object can be embedded into the presentation. It must be seen to really understand. You can read more about it here.

Powtoon can be described as the child of VideoScribe and PowerPoint. It offers a lot of the best of both in one package. Presentations come alive through constant animation and moving objects. There is nothing boring about Powtoon. For simple animations, Powtoon surely offers a lot of functionality to create simple animations.

Emaze is like PowerPoint on steroids. A nice thing about emaze is that it is all online; nothing to download. They offer a selection of pre-designed layouts and templates from which to build exciting presentations. Students love the ease of this product, and so will teachers. Plus, because of the online nature of the product, students can collaborate with one another, as well as with the teacher.

All three vendors offer very attractive educator discounted pricing. However, Powtoon and emaze also offer free versions, which might just offer enough basic functionality to get started today with more captivating and engaging presentations.

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