Prezi. Think PowerPoint with a fashion sense.
Since its beginning in April 2009, the company that created a system for zooming presentations now has more than 12.5 million users, with more than one million new users each month. But before Prezi began, the technology was only being used by one person.
Adam Somlai-Fischer created the zoomable user interface (ZUI) for his architectural purposes in 2001, which allowed him to look at a floor plan as a whole and then zoom into specific parts of the project. Somlai-Fischer later created a ZUI editor, enabling anyone to use the zooming presentation tool.
The Prezi reach has extended into the education arena and is being used by teachers and students alike to present their lectures or their subject presentations.
“Teachers use Prezi because its innovative design facilitates collaboration and learning,” said Peter Arvai, Prezi CEO. “Seeing both the big picture with the ability to zoom into details helps students understand key points without losing context.”
Arvai and the Prezi sees the big business picture in higher education and is recruiting current college students to be “ambassadors” on their campuses for the PreziU Ambassadors Program. They are considered more like unpaid interns rather than employees. He said the program is designed to help students gain marketing experience and leadership development skills while spreading the word about Prezi and its use in the classroom.
The students will also receive one-on-one mentorship from Prezi employees. The program is scheduled to top out at 50 Ambassadors for the first year, but there are plans to expand rapidly in the coming years.
The program, which currently has 45 Ambassadors in 15 different countries will officially launch Aug. 15. Each Ambassador’s progress will be tracked through a competitive leader board that records the number of new users on each campus, new prezis created, and how many views each prezi receives.
“All of the Ambassadors went through an application and interview process before being selected, and come from a variety of different backgrounds,” he said. “Ultimately, these students will help Prezi better understand each university’s culture so that it can continue to adapt a medium that inspires creative thinking, discussions and delivery of ideas.”
According to Arvai, the zooming trend has definitely begun to spread with a new prezi being created every second.
And the technology should be spreading fast because of the limits presenters have been given through other platforms like PowerPoint. Arvai said presentation software is built upon the concept of slides, which is a 350-year-old technology that hasn’t evolved at the same pace as the computing technology it’s built around.
Yes, 350 years. It’s a comical but accurate reference to the Magic Lantern created in the mid 1600′s.
Arvai explained how Prezi is better than the traditional slide-based software where users brainstorm their presentations and develop their ideas in one spot, then translate their ideas into a story board and into slides, which is an underdeveloped and time-consuming process.
“With Prezi, you ideate on one side of the canvas and then connect the ideas together in the same place,” he said. “If your ideas are too cluttered, you move the ones you want to focus on to another part of the canvas.
“At Prezi we believe that stories benefit from audiences and presenters being able to see the whole story and how different parts relate to each other. The open canvas format of Prezi better mirrors the way our minds work. We like to start with the big picture, then focus in on parts that are important, while still keeping the big picture in mind. Our users describe seeing a prezi being like a visual journey.”
Prezi has a three-tiered user pricing system from the free Public version, the $59 per year Enjoy version and the Pro version for $159 per year. Students and teachers with an .edu email account can receive a free upgrade.