PowerPoint has become the de facto standard software to support presentations. However, advances in technology tools in the past few years—including Web 2.0 applications—have expanded the possibilities for easily improving presentations without extensive technology expertise.
Knowing how rapidly Web 2.0 technologies are cropping up, I couldn’t help wondering what other tools might be out there, so I cruised the landscape and decided to share a few of the things I found. The choices are both exciting and amazing—and most are either free or have a very low-cost option!
Keynote (Mac only, $39 from HSU Bookstore) is a very popular alternative to PowerPoint for creating slide presentations due to better integration of multimedia, more polished theme options, and appealing transitions. In addition, iPhone users can remotely advance slides via wireless network connections and refer to the speaker notes on their handheld phones. However, transferring files into PowerPoint can disrupt fonts and layout of text.
Impress is the PowerPoint counterpart in the Open Office suite of software. This is open source software so it is free to download. Although themes and styles are limited, this is a tool that creates respectable presentations with few compatibility problems when transferred between Mac and PC.
Google Presentations may be the most well known tool for web-published presentations that allows collaboration over the Internet. However, as groundbreaking as this tool is presentations are limited to 10Mb; no movies, sounds, or any type of animation can be incorporated.
SlideRocket is a web-based presentation creation and publishing tool. Use your own pictures, text, and video or capture resources from the WWW to store in an online media library that can be shared and organized as desired. The free version allows unlimited presentations and up to 250 Mb of online storage. See SlideRocket in action!
Prezentit and 280Slides are other tools with similar features, but may be less reliable or have fewer features.
I’m a big fan of Jing! Jing is a free program for both Mac and PC users that not only makes it effortless to capture screen shots to incorporate into handouts and presentation slides, but you can also capture up to 5 minutes of video from your computer display with optional recording from your microphone. These “screencasts” can be saved to insert into your Moodle course, or you can publish them to the WWW if desired (no charge), then share the link. Jing does not have a captioning option, so a text equivalent must be offered. See Jing in action!
Camtasia is a more full-featured “sibling” to Jing that offers captioning capability and more sophisticated (but still easy) sequencing of media in the same video (e.g., sound files, still images, video) along a timeline. See an example of Camtasia in action!
VuVox’s Collage may be the most exciting tool I found in my investigation! “This dynamic media creation suite enables everyone to easily turn their photos, videos, text and audio clips into interactive stories. A Collage can be published, embedded, and syndicated into any website, blog or social networking site.”
Animoto is another of my favorites for adding excitement to presentations. It is effortless to create a professional quality video from still images with a soundtrack of your choice. Free accounts limit videos to 30 seconds, a $30 annual pass allows an unlimited number of full length videos. Accounts for educational use may still be free. Animoto presentations definitely emphasize visual and auditory learning as text is downplayed. See Animoto in action!
Prezi offers a completely different type of presentation: a visual representation showing relationships between elements of your presentation. This is a web-based tool that can incorporate all types of media. Free version has a watermark and publishes all presentations online. Other plans are modestly priced at approximately $64-$196 per year. See Prezi in action!