Classroom activity with Prezi as a collaboration tool

Subject: Information Studies. Course: Internet Communication. Study level: Master. Group size: 25.

Motivation for the activity

The presentation tool Prezi can be used for more than presentations. I use it to promote collaborative learning in class. It's a good tool to activate all students in working with a topic without the lecturer having to spend a lot of time on preparations. 

Central learning outcomes for the course

  • To use different communication forms on the internet or in other digital contexts.
  • To analyze the impact of digital media.
  • To participate in academic discussions on the significance of digital media on communication and communicative contexs. 

Central learning outcomes for the activity

  • Independent reflexion and collaboration.
  • Teaching the students that their collective knowledge and the answers they find together can be just as good as anything I can tell them. 

Description of the activity

The students have read texts for preparation like a normal lecture. Depending on how much they must be lead in their independent work I might give them other resources, e.g. YouTube videos or the like, that can help them understand the subejct.

Before class I prepare a shared Prezi for the whole class with the subject at the center. I then choose or let the class choose a series of topics so that each group get their own topic to work with in the shared Prezi.   

Whether I or the group choose the topics depends on the level of difficulty of the subject and what goal I have with the activity.

I can steer the work in a certain direction by giving the students specific topics. But I can also challenge them by asking what they think is relevant: Fill out this Prezi. What do you think is important?

The students are divided into groups and spend the entire lecture building up a resource in the shared Prezi consisting of text, videos, pictures etc.; everything they can find with relation to the subject. All resources that say something about the subject can be used. 

Prezi allows 12 people to work in the presentation at the same time which means that all groups can work simultaneously in the Prezi.

I am present during the lecture and walk around the room, talking with the groups and answering questions. Once every hour I stop the group work and ask each group to tell the class in no more than three minutes how they are doing and what they are working on and we discuss that together.  

If something about one subject is still very open and unclear in a group when the lecture is over I'll ask them to finish it together in a way that makes the topic understandable to others. But if the groups' topics are already completed and rounded I'll leave it at that. 

Outcome of the activity

25 people gathered together in one room can do more than just one person.

When so many are assembled to work on a subject it easily happens that the students come up with things that I didn't know beforehand. Or they find a new perspective on something by taking a different approach to the work than I would have. 

The Prezi becomes a resource for the students that they can return to. It is a raw collection of material that they can use for the remainder of the course and in connection with their exam. 

For the lecturer this activity is an easy way to turn the teaching upside down. The students are active during the entire lecture and we spend our time in a meaningful way by working together. 

Reflections on the activity

It is not necessary for you or your students to be familiar with Prezi in advance. It is easy to use and the 'learn as you go' aspect can easily be a part of the activity.

The students may be critical towards the activity because they have an expectation about me doing more than I actually do. Some students would rather have me tell them what the "right" answer is and they might be unsure as to whether their material is good enough.

It is an important point that the students learn a lot by working on the topic themselves, even if they find it difficult. They learn from working without my interference and they need to learn to trust the quality of what they create peer-to-peer. I am present throughout the whole activity and will therefore intervene if something is headed in a counterproductive direction. 

Shared Prezi from a lecture

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