In week 7 of 23 things for research we were asked to look at ways of presenting and sharing our research through videos, podcasts and presentations. As I’m already familiar with creating videos for my ukulele YouTube channel I decided to focus on developing my presentation skills. I have some experience of live presentations using Keynote slideshows but now I’m looking at ways to enhance the learning experience in tutorials on the I Love Classical Ukulele blog. Prezi caught my eye as a potential way of sharing information in a more dynamic and engaging way. Before I talk about my Prezi experience I’ll just give some background on my master plan.
The ukulele has a huge online presence with many people self learning through YouTube tutorial videos, subscription sites, social media groups, blogs and ukulele forums. The majority of online ukulele self-help, however, is directed at singing and strumming. On this site I am promoting classical and instrumental playing. As of last week (4th March 2018) my aim is to publish a new blog tutorial each month. The tutorial will either focus on a technical issue, such as right hand finger picking, or on a specific piece.
Last week’s blog tutorial was on a little Irish tune called The Rakes of Mallow. The rhythm of this piece is tricky so the tutorial focused on timing. While I gave details on how to clap and count I felt this was quite a static and cumbersome way to impart information. I wondered how many people would find the timing section useful and how many would die of boredom!
Then came Prezi…
Prezi was recommended in ‘thing 14’ as an alternative to Power Point. As mentioned before I’m accustomed to using Keynote (which is the mac equivalent of Power Point). Prezi promised to be more dynamic and engaging so I thought I would try it out. I decided to make a Prezi of The Rakes of Mallow Rhythm. If successful I could add it to last week’s tutorial.
We were warned that Prezi can take some getting used to so I watched a couple of videos on getting started. These were helpful and advised you to plan your Prezi. This, however, is a bit of a catch 22 situation. Until you start using Prezi you can’t fully appreciate how it all works and how best to build your topics and subtopics and whether to choose planets or stacks. So, there is a bit of trial and error involved in getting the hang of it. My final Prezi looks quite different from my first attempt.
I chose to use a novice level template. This gave me a basic frame for my tutorial. It worked quite nicely in that each topic covers one rhythmic pattern. For example: if you’re having trouble with bar 7 you can select that topic from the overview rather than having to watch the whole slideshow. I also liked that I could build in extras slides with more information on the rhythms. At first I did get a bit carried away with the animations. While zooming in and out is quite novel, it’s very easy to overdo it and leave your audience feeling sea sick!
Prezi does have icons and symbols but it didn’t have all the rhythm symbols I needed for the tutorial. Initially, I used screenshots of the relevant bars. One criticism of Prezi is that while you can include images, such as screenshots, there is no option to mask them. This means you can’t tidy up your screenshots. I found this disappointing as the images in my first attempt looked messy and amateurish. Plan B was to delete the screenshots and create rhythmic symbols. This was not difficult, just time consuming. I was able to create some of the symbols from Mac icons but I also had to source some from the internet. Consequently my font is not consistent and this bugs me.
The biggest gripe I have with Prezi is trying to preview my presentation. While there are 2 preview options one seems to be part of the $19 per month plan and the other didn’t work. Every time I clicked ‘start presentation’ I got a white screen with the message ‘click to exit’. The screen froze and I had to reload the slideshow. The preview would only play from my dashboard page. This was very frustrating and time consuming. Fortunately, the presentation does save automatically so my changes weren’t lost but it made editing a nightmare. By the time my Prezi had reloaded I’d forgotten exactly where the mistake was and had to go through everything again. This would be a major reason for me not to use Prezi in future.
I spent a lot of time creating my Prezi (2 Twirls and about 10 cups of tea). But I can see that once you get used to working with the programme you would become quicker but…there’s still the preview problem…
When I’d finished my Prezi I asked a friend what she thought of my slideshow. She thought it was good, but a bit gimmicky. But added that, maybe for this kind of tutorial, gimmicky was a good thing because it would keep people engaged. But then are they understanding the rhythm or just mesmerised by zooming in and out?
I’m going to add the Prezi slideshow to The Rakes of Mallow tutorial and will be interested to see what people think. If people find it useful and worthwhile then I think I would make the effort to use Prezi again. (If I have a supply of Twirls and tea.) You can also view the Prezi here…
Btw, I though I’d worked out how to embed the video thanks to Prezi help. (But once I hit publish it didn’t work. There’s just a link.) Now that I’ve had a chance to watch it….I’m quite pleased.
All images are copyrighted Josie Elias 2018