Examining…Presentation Programs

It’s now time for another post in the new “Examining…Technologies” series.  For this, I thought with the school year soon to begin, it would be a great time to look at various presentation programs.  I’m leaving video presentation ones off this list; those programs will have their own list in a few weeks.


Keynote is Apple’s slide show software.  It does everything PowerPoint also does in regards to content and animation.  Presentations can be edited from any Apple device loaded with the software/application and is saved to iCloud.  Since Apple knows how common PowerPoint is, Keynote allows PowerPoint slides to be imported and for presentations to be saved in .pptx format.  Shows can also be saved as movie files and/or directly uploaded to YouTube.

Google Presentations

"AMIE students complete summer internships in Europe" by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers via Flickr Creative Commons.

“AMIE students complete summer internships in Europe” by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers via Flickr Creative Commons.

Google Presentations is a web app that creates slide show presentations.  Similar to PowerPoint (see below), one can create, edit, and animate slides.  Everything is saved to Google Drive, a cloud storage service.  Presentations has several benefits.  First, files can be shared and edited by multiple people making it great for group projects.  Second, the file can be presented online or exported as a .pptx (PowerPoint) file for use offline.  Third, a PowerPoint file can be uploaded and converted to a Presentations file.  It is important to note, for those used to PowerPoint, the interface is slightly different but easy to learn.


Microsoft’s PowerPoint has been the mainstay of presentation software for nearly two decades.  It pioneered the slide show format.  Because it is offered on nearly all computers (there is a Mac version), it is still the most popular format.  However, it is best used for the single person presentation.  The newer online slide show applications are better for collaborative work.  As you probably already know, slides can be customized for text, image, and video content and sounds can be embedded.  There is also an optional outline view to type or edit content in.  The slides can be automated, either automatically or “on click” using a variety of schemas.

PowerPoint, Office Apps Live/SkyDrive Version

Microsoft also offers a freely available online version of PowerPoint.  Hosted in its Office Apps Live software and saved to the Skydrive cloud, it is accessible to anyone with a Microsoft Live account (ex. Outlook e-mail user).  This version offers all the features of the computer-based version except outline view and some animation schemes and adds in a few bonuses.  The first of these bonuses is that the files can be shared and edited by multiple people.  The second is that instead of working completely online, a user can open the file in the computer-based PowerPoint but all changes are saved to SkyDrive.  Also, files can be downloaded for computer use without any problems.

Also, SkyDrive is available as an app for smartphones and tablets, allowing one to view the files on their device.  However, one cannot edit them without purchasing the Microsoft Apps for Word, PowerPoint, or Excel.


Prezi might be the model for the next generation of presentation software.  Instead of using slides, Prezi uses an interactive digital whiteboard with zooming capabilities. Instead of transitioning between slides, animations are used to move to different parts of the board and to zoom in or out to examine the object/text that will be presented.  Since everything can see seen when the whole board is displayed (even if it is tiny), the entire context of the presented material is seen, making it exceptionally great for visual learners.  Like the other web-based presentation tools, collaboration with multiple people is a feature, as is the ability to share presentations with a selected audience or the world.  If you are not already familiar with Prezi, take a look at their introduction to Prezi presentation.  It both explains the software and provides a great demonstration of its capabilities.

Allow me to explain a bit about how Prezi works since it is different from the other methods.  A presentation can begin in three ways; PowerPoint slides can be imported, a presentation can be created using a template, or a blank presentation can be created.  I have only began from a template and it is fairly simple to use.  You just type in the information where it asks for things like “topics” and “details” and the animation is handled for you.  One can click on “Add frame” to add additional points and sub points or “add image” to include a graphic.  Videos, graphs, sound clips, and other media can be added, as can voice over recordings.  In all, it is very simple and easy to use.

Prezi offers a basic free account with 100 MB of storage for public only viewing.  To gain more space and private presentations, there are two different plans to choose from.  For students and educators, there is a way to sign up for a special account with private presentations and extra storage for free.  Follow this link: http://prezi.com/pricing/edu/.  You must have a .edu e-mail address to qualify.

SMART Board/Promethean Software

Demonstrating a teaching game made with the SMART Board software. "SMARTBoard Showcase 014" by Lisa Thumann from Flickr Creative Commons.

Demonstrating a teaching game made with the SMART Board software. “SMARTBoard Showcase 014” by Lisa Thumann from Flickr Creative Commons.

Does you classroom or library have a SMART Board or Promethean Board?  If the answer is yes, have you check out the software the company issues?  If not, you are missing out on using a great resource.  The slide principle popularized by PowerPoint is still the basis of the softwares, but they have some extra gadgets worked into the programs.  Instead of using a mouse, the pens and erasers that come with the board can be used.  There is also a “curtain” that allows one to cover part of a slide.  Shapes can be layered over objects or words to hide answers to questions until the students are ready, then easily dragged away with a finger.  There are also more options for integrating sounds and videos than typical slide presentations, as an unlimited amount can theoretically be used per slide.

I’ve used both types of boards and there are few differences in the hardware and software.  If you know how to use one, you can easily adapt to the other.  The thing I like best when I’ve used this software is that it is much more interactive than slide show programs/applications.  Both students and teachers can interact with the board in more ways, such as creating interactive games and class work problems (see photo to directly above for an example).  I’ve seen the software grab students’ attention and this ability to interact with the boards gives them an incentive to participate more in class.

Zoho Docs

I have not used this web-based software, but it the information I read about it indicate it is similar to both PowerPoint and Google Presentations in regards to interfaces, tools, and sharing.  It also allows in-program flow charts to be built and added and for slide shows to be “broadcasted” to a selected audience webinar style.

Sharing Slide Shows

After creating slide shows (and saving them as .pptx files), there are multiple websites to upload the files to in order to share them with a wider audience.  By this I mean the world and not a handful of selected individuals.  Here is a list of a few popular places:

  1. SlideShare:  Allows slide presentations to be share both privately and publicly online.  When looking at a presentations, one can opt to share it on social media, like it, download a copy, and/or embed it elsewhere online.  SlideShare also supports document, PDF, video, and webinar recording sharing on its site.  SlideShare is the most popular site of its kind and it ranks in the top ten educational websites and top 200 most visited websites worldwide.
  2. SlideSnack:  Share presentations and turn them into videos.  I have not used this before, so I cannot say much more.
  3. YouTube:  Slide shows can be saved as a video files and uploaded to YouTube.

Per usual, if you know of a great software or program I missed, please comment and let me know.  I’ll check it out and see about adding it to the list.  Does anyone have any questions?


One thought on “Examining…Presentation Programs

  1. Pingback: Preparing for My Conference Presentation | Amy's Scrap Bag: A Blog About Libraries, Archives, and History

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