Tag Archives: prezi

Literature Survey Final Project

I used to hate “creative” school projects when I was a student, since simply writing an exam required a whole lot of less of me, but for this year’s upper division American lit survey I decided to subject my class to just such a final assignment because as an instructor, I REALLY REALLY hate grading blue books.

Inspiration for this project came while I was putting together my syllabus and designing the Prezi course map and decided I wanted to render transparent the way in which designing such a course requires making some challenging decisions about what to include and what relationships between texts, genres, authors, and historical periods to emphasize. Any such course inevitably leaves things out and requires one to smooth over nuances that a more in depth study of any particular element would reveal. So, for the final project, I asked students to design a creative presentation that would re-present the overall arcs of the course in a way that seemed important or helpful for them. I told them to think about what they would do if asked to teach this course to other people or were designing the best study guide ever for a hypothetical final exam.

Link to handout.

I was pleased enough with the results first semester to give it another go during the Spring when I had some exceptional models to offer. I would say about half of the students chose to emulate the course map by using Prezi, though with some decidedly innovative twists of their own. Other students created Pinterest Boards, Tumblrs, and standard blogs.

Here are some Prezi examples:

The last one has an audio component that is completely worth listening to all the way through for its spot-on parody of NPR interviews.

By the way, here is a great shortcode converter that makes embedding Prezi in WordPress really easy.

Using Prezi to Create Interactive Course Maps

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.