Mapping, Collaborating, and Connecting through PREZI

Many of you may know Prezi ( as an online presentation tool that frees you from the linearity of Powerpoint, but did you know that it makes for a great mind mapping tool as well? In the last three years I have primarily used it that way in my classes, during brainstorming sessions, in meetings, and for project planning and management. I thought I would share a few of the ways I have been using Prezi for instructional purposes along with some recent Prezis.  (As my students know, I usually can’t contain my excitement about all it can do, so simply)

MAPPING. I recently used Prezi on the first day of the Smithsonian Folkways World Music Pedagogy course at the University of Miami as a way to introduce participants to the musics of the world we would be studying throughout the school year. Initially it served as a way to provide an overview of the course. As I videotaped the grScreen shot 2013-10-05 at 10.22.05 AMoup learning songs, dances, games, and music, I realized Prezi could also serve as a repository for these videos. I have since given participants in the program access to the Prezi so they can recall the songs, note how the songs performed differ from the notated versions, or link to the Smithsonian music collection. As the course evolves, I imagine it will include many other things as well. At the end of the six sessions, spread over a school year, we will have documented the many musical cultures studied, the curricular frameworks discussed, and the projects created. This is a work in progress. You might want to check back to see how it has changed in six months.

COLLABORATING. In the past I used to bring in large posters and markers into class when I wanted my classes to break up into small groups to brainstorm or work on an in-class project. Class members would usually assemble into groups around the classroom to work on their posters (if you were my student at some point, you probably remember doing that). Screen shot 2013-10-05 at 10.24.36 AMNow I use Prezi as a way for students to work collaboratively, documenting their thinking and ideas. For instance, in my History and Philosophy of Music Education course this semester, I had students (all of whom I granted editing access to our class Prezi) synthesize some of the key ideas of formalism, utilitarianism, praxialism, contextualism on Prezi.   We could see our individual avatars moving through the Prezi, adding images, text, and videos in real time.

CONNECTING. I’ve been using Prezi in my general music methods courses for three years now. Each semester, I start with a blank Prezi; each class period is an opportunity for us to build and extend it. In so doing, we map what we are learning from the readings,  experiences in the field, and in-class discussions. We also use it as a way to make inter- and intra-unit connections. Many of the videos I ask students to watch are found on the Prezi, as well as videos and books we recommend one another because of their relevance to the course content. You can also see students’ illustrations, representing their visions of the elementary music classroom (they are actually kind of fun, revealing, and funny all rolled into one). Like the prior Prezi, this has no animation and is a work in progress.

I hope this blog entry gives you some ideas for how you might use Prezi or some other mind mapping tool in your own teaching. I’d love to hear how some of you are using it in your own work.


2 thoughts on “Mapping, Collaborating, and Connecting through PREZI

  1. Bryn Hughes

    Very cool, Carlos! I never thought about the potential for the infinite canvas to be used as a semester-long class notebook. What a wonderful idea! I’ve been toying with impress.js (, which is an open-source, open-access version of Prezi.

    I’ve also been using Google Drive ( for collaborative note-taking and sharing materials.

  2. Doulas

    This is very cool! I have been discovering the app Socrative, which could be a powerful tool at the collegiate level. For 1st-3rd graders it’s a bit of a stretch, but the iPad interface makes it so easy. Would love to discuss this further with you when I see you in Denver!


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