Nigel Mitchell, HOD English at Tawa College, and students in his class talk about the benefits of using Prezi to collaborate and take control of their own learning. Using the Internet and solo taxonomy students are involved in thinking about and selecting the information they want. Using this tool has allowed him to guide what students are doing rather than be the expert. Nigel reflects, "Students found much more information and it’s a lot more efficient and engaging for them as well because they own that stuff."
We’ve been looking at using Prezi as a way for kids to collaborate in a virtual learning environment. I was quite excited by the ability for it to be a place where kids could put ideas and then explore links between them.
We used Prezi to create presentations that more than one person can join in on. One we did in English was on parallels between Animal Farm and the actual Russian Revolution.
So there were at least two elements to it, one the production of the knowledge, and two, the ability for them to collaborate on that using Prezi meeting.
Everyone thinks in different ways and so I might see something that my partner doesn’t. But then she’ll probably find something that I didn’t. So when we’re both working together we’ll get way more than we would if we’d made two individual presentations and tried to merge them because then there would be parts that didn’t go.
Everyone was working on their own thing but if we weren’t sure what another person was working on we could just click on their avatar. You could watch them actually type it in and you can edit it as they’re working on it too which made things a lot easier and we worked together a lot better because of it.
Well Prezi is really great because you could brainstorm but you could put stuff in order. So, it makes sense if you go and look at it again later rather than having to remember what might have prompted you to put this next to that because they don’t make sense. Instead of having a big bunch of people arguing over where to put stuff how to put it together we can all just sit separately and collaborate on one presentation.
Rather than them having to organise their thoughts one after another they can zoom around a concept and they can find information, chuck it up on their virtual piece of paper and then draw links between it and that’s a really powerful learning thing in itself. Being able to do that - being able to go from multi structural to relational and then hopefully sometimes extended abstract comes out of that. Going through those solo thinking processes using that tool is great.
Looking at stuff on the Internet to find information for the Prezi really helped - we had looked at the Russian Revolution in social studies at the same time so I knew a bit but the people on the web they’d thought of much more connections than I had and so I was able to put that much more detail.
Rather than me sort of deciding what they need to know they can use the power of the Internet to explore the connections, read what other people have said about how Animal Farm is allegorical, make some decisions about what information they want to include, do some relational thinking about how those things connect. We do refer to solo taxonomy a lot so they’re actually involved in the thinking, the selection, the choosing of the information that they think they want.
We saw how other people made the connections and we took those ideas on board when we were creating our Prezi but we read the book, we understood it in our own way and added in different people’s perspectives.
That’s really allowed me to sit back and guide what they’re doing rather than me being the expert. They found much more than I would have done and it’s a lot more efficient and certainly engaging for them as well because they own that stuff.