17 March 2011

Using Prezi.com for Genealogy

     Yesterday I posted a genealogy timeline that I created using Prezi.com. My sister, who is a student teacher, showed me an awesome US History presentation she had created for her class and I immediately wanted to create something of my own.

     As stated on their website:

"At Prezi, we're all about helping people understand each other better. Presentations have not evolved much in the 50 years since the slide was invented, but Prezi is changing that. Prezi lets you bring your ideas into one space and see how they relate, helping you and your audience connect. Zoom out to see the big picture and zoom in to see details — a bit like web-based maps that have changed how we navigate through map books."
     Pretty much, this is an online program that takes a powerpoint style presentation to a whole new level. Instead of simple, individual slides, prezi allows users to create dynamic, twisting presentations that can do things that made me say "wow."

     I signed up for the free student/teacher edition using my college email address. Otherwise there are both free and paid accounts. The differences in the accounts are mainly based on storage and privacy.

     Prezi is pretty easy to use, but does take some experimenting to get used to using. Mainly you create an element using the control panel on the top left and then edit it using the control curser, called a "zebra" (it's got lots of "stripes"). Here's a screenshot of the "canvas" where you create your prezi:

     You can place text, photos, videos, etc onto a canvas space however you want: upside down, sideways, etc, then determine what size you want it to be. You then create a path between each element that will be followed when you present the presentation. You can create your own color scheme or use a pre-created one. When you're done, you can download the prezi or embed it in a blog or website.

     I would like to see some additional features. You can add 'shapes', but all you have are circles, shaded squares, arrows and brackets of one basic design. When you choose a color scheme, it applies to all of that type of element in your prezi. You can print to PDF, but it automatically sizes to fit on a 8x10 page with no apparent option for larger sizes.

     Overall, I think this is a great tool for creating family history slideshows. Think of how you could use this to explain the family tree at a reunion. Or perhaps a presentation to your local genealogical society?

     Here's the presentation that my sister created for her class:

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