Thursday, October 31, 2013

Adding to My Web 2.0 Toolbox

Over the past several weeks in my Technology in Education course, I have been learning about several Web 2.0 tools that could be useful in improving instruction, and they also provide opportunities for innovative activities and methods to engage students. What is a Web 2.0 tool you might ask? According to, it is defined as: "a second generation in the development of the World Wide Web, conceived as a combination of concepts, trends, and technologies that focus on user collaboration, sharing of user-generated content, and social networking."

Web 2.0 tools come in many forms (Blogger is one for example) and it goes beyond static web pages and more towards user interaction and collaboration. I want to talk about one of the tools that I had the opportunity to learn about, and share my thoughts and reflections about its uses in a classroom, and how it might benefit my future practice. The Web 2.0 tool I will be sharing in this post is a popular and widely used tool that goes by the name of Prezi.

So Prezi is essentially a website that creates presentations with pretty cool animations (Link). In other words, it's PowerPoint on steroids. The most distinguishing feature of Prezi that differentiates it with PowerPoint is the implementation of the transitions between slides or "frames" as it's called in Prezi. You upload your images, videos, text, etc. into these frames, and you can select what kind of transition you want to have. The most interesting transition to me was the ability to set a small image in a frame within a large image in a frame. So say you choose your preset background as a giant world map, you can set smaller frames with information within different countries or locations, and when you click on that location the Prezi will zoom in on your image or information. The transitions can also rotate or move along a set path, thus making the transitions with Prezi much more animated and cooler to look at than the ones with PowerPoint.

As I was listening to a presentation about this Web 2.0 tool along with how it can be used for different disciplines, I began to think about how this tool might be more useful for me than using just regular slides from a PowerPoint. One specific thing that I thought about using it for was using the world map background, and then setting frames in different countries that when clicked on it would show videos of mathematical practices or instruction that are unique and specific to those countries. For example, I could put the following YouTube video of children in China learning multiplication and addition of very large numbers using an abacus, an ancient tool that was used for computations like a calculator.

I have always been interested in the different ways math is being taught around the world, and I feel that using Prezi to show these things to students could be a really engaging way to introduce or teach math. Overall, I really like the tool. Even though it's based off a website, you can also download it and create Prezi's offline. The Prezi's you create will also save online for you to have access to at any time. Although I still have some confusion on how exactly to create one as I haven't played around with it yet myself, I can see the potential it has in making my presentations more engaging.

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