Friday, December 09, 2011

Must Watch: The best Prezi of the Year!

A colleague of mine, Dr. Jean-Marie Muhirwa, recently returned back from the Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE) E-Learn 2011 World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare & Higher Education held in Honolulu, Hawaii on 18-21 October 2011. He told me about one keynote presentation that had a very high impact on the audience and after seeing it myself, I have to agree that it's one of the best prezi-type presentations I have ever seen. If you are new to Prezi, then check their website out. I asked Jean-Marie to give us a little summary of the morning of this presentation, and this is what he wrote.
The Techno Troubadour and Teacherpreneur by Amy Burvall and Herb Mahelona was undoubtedly the most popular keynote presentation of the conference. The big Hawaii Ballroom at the Royal Sheraton was packed despite the fact that it was schedule at 8:30-9:30 am, a bit early by Waikiki standards where there is so much to do and even more to see 24/7. Most of the attendees grabbed a muffin or a croissant and a hot drink form the tables at the huge entrance hall and rushed in the room. Everyone was eager to secure a good spot, close to the stage and to the big screen. Because of their creative work, the presenters have arguably become superstars in the field of EdTech. They were featured in a Washington Post article and are regularly interviewed scores of by mainstream and specialized publications, mostly in North America and in Europe. No small accomplishment for what started as a collaborative effort from a World History teacher (Burvall) and a technology specialist (Mahelona), both from Hawaii. The result was the successful History for Music Lovers to teach history online through music parody. Over the last few years this partnership took the initial project to new heights by addressing some of the most fundamental and complex issues related to online learning, creativity, copy rights, social justice, etc. No wonder the resulting prezi made Educational Technology scholars, academics and practitioners from around the world rub elbows that early in the morning on October 19 2011. Although there were a few glitches during the playback, especially since it had to be fast-forwarded to selected videos due to time constraints, it looked like the engaging prezi stole the show to its creators’ live presentation. However, the packed conference room shrunk to less than 20 attendees during the Keynote conversation with Burvall and Mahelona, scheduled 10:00 – 11:00 am the same day. Not blessed with the gift of being everywhere at once, I had to follow the crowd to equally inviting concurrent sessions. The one I was heading to was entitled’ A Novel Pedagogical Evaluation Model for Educational Digital Storytelling Environments by colleagues from Greece.
  • Gosh, I wonder how much time they spent putting together the whole thing, one attendee asked me unexpectedly while we were exiting the room.
  • A lot, I bet!... That’s all I had the time to reply before our paths diverged.
On my way to the next presentation, I overheard another attendee mentioning to his friends that he was impressed by the engaging prezi but couldn’t quite see how he could possibly harness its potential to benefit his online students. There you go! Even the prezi of the year didn’t escape the rule: there is no meeting of academics and professional s without hard questions. Assuming the technical skills and the subject matter expertise are warranted as it was the case in the Burvall-Mahelona partnership, where do you find time and pedagogical skills to design a prezi that is worthwhile to your students? A good question to ponder during the upcoming holidays while enjoying the best prezi of the year.
So after seeing the prezi, what do you think? Any juicy tidbits in there that are interesting to you? If so, leave a comment below.