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Archive for December, 2012

Last week, I had an interesting conversation with several classes that I teach. My Juniors wrote an essay on a prompt that basically asked them if it was fair for admission offices at universities and colleges to weigh their applications based on content found in Myspace pages and Facebook profiles. I was surprised by the results.

Overwhelmingly, the majority of students felt that it was inappropriate for colleges to view their profiles or pages. Phrases like “invasion of privacy” and “they have no business” were found in almost every essay that I read. Many students wrote about how the theses pages are private places, only meant for friends and only meant for the eyes of those they want to see. Some students were downright angry that this kind of stuff was happening in schools. There were so many students who wrote along this vane, I was both surprised and a little scared. This was the mindset of the students when they posted information to their profile: whatever they posted was private.

After they wrote the essay, we had a class discussion about the topic. I was hoping to turn this into a positive teaching opportunity. I told students that whether they liked it or not, colleges were going to do this. These places where students spend numerous hours posting, chatting, liking and commenting are not private spaces at all, not even close. Instead, they are very public by nature. Most students didn’t realize that by signing up for a Facebook account and accepting the terms and condition, they pretty much sign over the rights of everything they post, or even say, to Facebook to whatever with however they want.

The most interesting thing about this whole conversation was that the students still felt like the whole thing was wrong. I don’t think they totally bought into what I was telling them. They still argued up and down that it was wrong for schools to use Facebook and Myspace as a determiner for college admittance.

They just don’t get it. This scares me a little. In their minds, whatever they do on the web is their business. The problem with this kind of thinking is that, to use a classic cliche, nothing could be further from the truth.

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Prezi

I didn’t quite know what to name this blog post. I wanted to write something like I love prezi or students love prezi or prezi is just plain cool, fantastic, awesome, but all of these titles seemed a little cheesy. So, instead of coming up with a dramatic title, I though I would just write a little about how great the web app is.

I just finished a unit with Freshmen who gave a presentation as the culminating assignment after having read a novel. None of the students had ever heard of Prezi before, so they had the option to use either PowerPoint or Prezi for the presentations. After watching students create the presentations and having sat through 50+ speech/presentations, I noticed a difference in the two tools. Fundamentally, I don’t think that there is much difference. They both are basic slideshow tools that are relatively easy to use. However, there are a few areas where Prezi h0lds the upper hand.

1. The PowerPoint presentations tend to have quite a bit of clip art in them. Prezis are generally comprised of vibrant pictures from the web.

2. Prezi presentations make the audience want to say “wow” or “cool” at times. As slides flip from one to another, there are definite oohs and aahs. I never did hear this during a PowerPoints in my classroom, and thinking back, I don’t think I have ever heard that at anytime when a PowerPoint was being given.

3. Prezi allows the creator to be truly creative. It is easy to get a picture and then build a presentation on it, in it, or around it with Prezi. PowerPoint does not allow quite the same creative flare.

4. No two Prezis look the same, even when the templates are used. I would have to say that most of the PowerPoints I observed were pretty canned.

5. It may be because Prezi is relatively new, but Prezi is just cool. PowerPoint has been around awhile, and it shows. Most of have sat through too many boring PowerPoint presentations, and hence, they are not that cool.

Just my two bits! If you haven’t tried Prezi, go there now and sign up. If you have a school email, you can get a free Pro Educators account. Make sure to look for that option.

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