The Good and Bad of the Prezi Contest Winner

Today, Prezi announced the winner of its iPad Contest. I am excited by the results, but also slightly concerned. The contest asked participants to create a Prezi presentation that would answer the question "iPad + Prezi = ?" in an effort to explore the possibilities of using the new Prezi for iPad app. New technology is always exciting and – like many teachers and students – my first thoughts go towards how it can be used in the classroom. I viewed all 7 finalists for the competition and nearly all of them mentioned using Prezi + iPad in some educational setting.

I especially liked Derek Jones' presentation which explored using Prezi for iPad in various combinations, such as using one iPad to browse various presentations, or using multiple iPads to interact with the teacher's presentation. Check out this concept from his presentation: While a teacher is lecturing, a question can be shown on the projector screen while the possible answers are shown on the students' iPad screens. Each student can then respond on their iPad. How awesome is that?!

Prezi can be used to show quiz questions while students see the responses on their iPads

Concept: Use Prezi + iPad as a quiz & feedback tool in the classroom

While this functionality is not yet possible with Prezi, it is this conceptual thinking that drives technology forward and makes it worthwhile to explore it's use in the classroom.

The winner, by popular vote, of the Prezi + iPad contest was Will Gibbs, a History teacher in Philadelphia. Will's presentation also encourages the exploration of using new technologies in the classroom and emphasizes the importance of teachers and private companies in moving forward and revolutionizing the tools available for education. In particular, he mentions the use of tests that haven't changed in 30 years! While I agree with Will that "there is far too much stagnancy in our educational institutions right now," his presentation also suggests a viewpoint that I have heard more and more from teachers, that greatly concerns me. Evidently, some people think that using old technology is ridiculous.

Will Gibbs asks which 30 year old classroom tools are used today.Will Gibbs suggests it is ridiculous that old classroom tools are still in use

I completely disagree that all old technology must die!

There seems to be a fear from some teachers that if they are not using the most current and up to date tools in their classroom that they themselves may become defunct, lose touch with their students, and fail as a teacher. This is not true!

Yes, teachers need to be flexible and willing to try new things as they are available to them, and new technology is one of the greatest ways to get student attention and encourage students to actively participate. But this doesn't mean that it is ridiculous to use tools such as overheads, chalkboards, and dioramas in the classroom today. Sure, updated versions such as document cameras and whiteboards might be better, and allowing students to create stop-motion film or podcasts are a great alternative. But sometimes paper and pencil are just more effective than handing out 20 iPads for the students to sketch on.

We need to use technology that is proven to be effective, not just technology that is new!