UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

What Can Web-Based Presentation Tools Offer?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 29 Apr 2009

Back at IWMW 2007 Helen Sargan ran a workshop session entitled “Just say No to Powerpoint: Web Alternatives for Slides and Presentations“. As someone who has used PowerPoint extensively since I’ve been at UKOLN and also have an interest in what Web-based alternative can provide I thought I would explore such alternatives.

And as I recently suggested an approach in which  “Critical Friends, Friendly Critics and Hostile Opponents” could either help or hinder a development or evaluation process I’d like to start off by describing the policies, environment, sensitivities and resources issues which I would regard as out-of-scope for such an evaluation, as the main area of interest are the specific issues related to the various Web-based presentations tool. A secondary agenda is to explore the limits of the model I described in my previous post.

But what of the policy issues which scope this evaluation work? I regard this exercise as looking at possible alternatives to PowerPoint as a desktop presentation tools to support mainstream teaching, learning and research activities. In my case this is for exploring ways in which over 10 year’s of PowerPointing can be made more interesting :-) whereas from an institutional perspective this might be to explore possible savings which could be made by replacing PowerPoint. And as my area of interest lies primarily in Web-based services I won’t be looking at desktop alternatives to MS PowerPoint, such as Open Office.

What are the environmental, sensitivities and resourcing issues which I have suggest could be disclosed in order to provide a context in which discussion and debate can be fruitful? Well, this work will be neutral about issues such as open source versus proprietary solutions.  It will also be neutral about the technologies used to provide access to Web-based solutions – so Flash-based solutions can be considered. And the discussions will be framed around a bottom-up approach for solutions which might be considered by the individual or small group or used within the context of an event which invites diversity in how speakers give their presentations. Similarly the issue of whether a presentational tool is an effective way of communicating ideas is out-of-scope.

But what type of tools should I be looking at? I think this should include office-based solutions available in the cloud and Web-based repositories of presentations, such as Slideshare and Slideboom.

Is this a useful approach? And any thoughts on what might be missing?

2 Responses to “What Can Web-Based Presentation Tools Offer?”

  1. Looking forward to it. :)

    Maybe this is obvious, but I always appreciate information on the hardware & software requirements of desktop and cloud tools. Many of the non-profits I work with are running older machines and/or have uneven access to some kinds of hardware and presentation environments. A fantastic tool does me no good if the PC I’m using won’t run it, or if requires a presentation environment I can’t access.

  2. Nicole Harris said

    Hi Brian

    It might also be interesting to think about it from the point of view of what alternatives can give to the individual beyond the presentation mode. There are obvious benefits to some web-based apps in that they provide good opportunities for collaboration and improved presentation. However, I have been using Prezi a lot recently not just because I think it improves the presenting experience (primarily because it is non-linear and less flow restricted than powerpoint) but also because it is just useful as a brainstorming tool – So I have used it as a tool to brainstorm, a tool to present from that brainstorm, and then a tool to help me write formal papers as well. Obviously there are lot of drawbacks to Prezi (currently not corporately badged, flash not great for accessibility, restricted templates, restrictions in terms of versions etc. etc.) but it is working well for me.

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