JITE-Research Volume 12, Number 1, ISSN 1539-3585 Publisher: Informing Science Institute
Presentation software is an important tool for both student and professorial communicators. PowerPoint has been the standard since it was introduced in 1990. However, new “improved” software platforms are emerging. Prezi is one of these, claiming to remedy the linear thinking that underlies PowerPoint by creating one canvas and permitting the presenter to zoom in and out as each element is introduced. Users can move back and forth to display the separate elements and reflect how they fit into a larger context. As these new tools are introduced, there may be different responses to them depending on the cultural background of the user. In order to understand one such interplay, Prezi was introduced to students in a class in Norway and in the same way to a class in the U.S. The mixed method study compared the introduction of this new software tool to two undergraduate classes in Spring 2012. The two professors used the same introduction to the tool. The output was the final project presentation for the class done using the Prezi tool. Students evaluated each other’s presentations on 10 attributes and answered two open-ended questions about the presentations. They also completed an 8-question self-evaluation of their or their team’s presentation. The instructor/researchers also used the same questions to evaluate her class. An additional 13 questions were added to the instructor instrument. Each instructor/researcher also viewed videos of the presentations from the other class and evaluated these presentations using the same set of questions. Results showed that both sets of students used the new tool well despite minimal direct instruction. Most made their presentations less linear than they would have been in PowerPoint. They generally used the Prezi technique of grouping elements and constructing a pathway between groups. Most inserted multimedia such as photos, videos, and links. Some especially appreciated the Prezi feature of more than one user being able to work on a presentation at the same time. Peers liked each other’s presentations and found them engaging. However, open-ended comments were more directed to actual content than use of Prezi. In student feedback the answer to the first attribute, being engaging, appeared to create a halo for most of the other attributes. In evaluating their peers’ presentations, the U.S. students were significantly more positive than the Norwegian ones, reinforcing the belief that the American culture is well above the global norm in optimism. Norwegians were lengthier in their open-ended feedback to their peers and focused more on content and style than the Americans. In self-evaluations, Americans had more to say than Norwegians. They stressed the creative aspect of Prezi whereas Norwegians highlighted presentations being tidy and calm. Males were higher raters on average than females. The researchers were less positive than the students, reflecting stricter standards than students.
Brock, S.E. & Brodahl, C. (2013). A Tale of Two Cultures: Cross Cultural Comparison in Learning the Prezi Presentation Software Tool in the US and Norway. Journal of Information Technology Education: Research, 12(1), 95-119. Informing Science Institute.
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