Since I’ve started the school library program at ODU, I’ve been exposed to a whole new world of presentation tools. This semester has helped me understand what makes a presentation an effective communication tool, and what makes a presentation evoke yawns from its audience. I’m always excited to learn about new tools, so this week’s assignment has been pretty fun for me.
Many of the tools I had used before, so I chose to focus on two here that I had never worked with. I also chose to work with tools that offer really decent freemium memberships. Meaning, I don’t want to pay money monthly (or lump) to use what I would consider basic functions of these tools.
Blendspace was really intriguing to me. Blendspace is marketing itself to educators in a way that makes the product accessible and smart. To me, it seemed like they were pushing using the product for a flipped classroom, which I thought is a wonderful use but also not necessarily available to all educators. They also mention it’s value in project-based learning, and differentiated instruction. Taking a closer look, I was a little overwhelmed by the presentations themselves. I can see why they work for a flipped classroom because you can honestly embed or share almost any multimedia in a Blendspace. I love the fact that this really does differentiate instruction – you can cater to all different kinds of learners in one presentation. I think Blendspaces would also be wonderful study guides. As a classroom presentation, I can see it becoming a little clunky – change slide, click here, change slide, click there. However, this does offer a seamless way to compile your web resources in one place. They make it so easy to search any subject in a variety of places (Google, Youtube, Flickr, Educreations, Gooru), as well as your own documents (via Dropbox, Drive, or your device). You can drag and drop the media right into the presentation, or add your own text. They also have built-in ways to assess students (quizzes). I can see Blendspaces used in class being linked through the library website, perhaps for absentees or even just as a refresher on the information. Blendspaces are super user friendly, however they do bring up issues of accessibility. If a student doesn’t have internet or a device to use from home, these would just become nice presentation tools instead of interaction guides for students.
Emaze is another user-friendly presentation builder. Their free account allows access to enough templates to be worthwhile, and also offers enough creative freedom to make the exact presentation you intend to. Emaze uses many of the techniques we have learned this semester to guide your presentation into effective communication territory. They offer slide by slide templates under a selected theme, taking the guesswork out of fonts, sizes, styles, etc. Obviously, you may choose to build your own slideshow, but if you are design-challenged or a perfectionist, their templates offer clean and creative styles that may save you a good amount of time. You can add text, images, embedded or linked multimedia, geometric shapes, or charts (developed from spreadsheets which may be imported). These features are easy to use and totally customizable to meet your needs. After saving your presentation, you can simply press “share” and send to most social media outlets, and also receive a standing link and an embed code. They also offer the option to send collaboration invitations via email, which is optimal for group projects. I see this tool as more of a classroom presentation tool, or perhaps to be used on a website for tutorials or study guides. It is quite a bit less interactive than Blendspace, and doesn’t offer the same in-site search tools that lend themselves to lesson creation.