Over the past year, I’ve started using the free online presentation platform Prezi to create interactive course maps. Like most platforms of this kind, it is designed with a corporate user in mind, and its built-in templates are, in my opinion, extremely limited. However, since it is so flexible and customizable, once you get some experience with it, you can do some pretty cool stuff. The 3-D navigation means that you can create non-linear presentations that students can explore according to their own needs and interests, rather than flipping through Power Point slides. And it means that I can show relationships among various course concepts and assigned texts in multiple dimensions.
The following timeline for my American Literature survey is designed to show historical relationships, to introduce key periods and styles, and to provoke (by arrangement along the vertical axis) reflection about the canon.
This presentation, by the way, is public, so you can copy it and use it as a template for your own course. Several instructors on Prezi already have.
This second course map for my American Realism class is a lot less complex in terms of design, but I like the way it looks. I primarily used it to introduce each author on the syllabus and suggest jumping off points for discussion.
In a future post, I’ll talk about how students used Prezi to create their own final projects.