Presentation Software for the Modern Age Classroom

Presentation Software for the Modern Age Classroom

By Susan Hussey, Sr. TESOL Faculty/ ELP Faculty

Susan Hussey HeadshotConnecting with others these days seems to be both easier and more difficult than ever in a world full of smartphones and social media. We can reach people near and far almost instantaneously with any number of technological devices. We can also tune them out. In education, this tuning in or out has become a challenge for both students and teachers. Students seem to have shorter and shorter attention spans and are chronically distracted by their smartphones and other technology tools, while educators are in a constant battle for students’ attention. One way to combat this problem is to integrate more technology into the classroom, rather than ban it, and make it a learning tool. If students can use technology to enhance their learning rather than have it distract them, everyone wins. In the TESOL classroom, one way to engage students is through speaking presentations (using a variety of technological tools).

While it is true that many students shy away from presenting a topic to their peers, technology can actually ease their anxiety and allow them to create more dynamic presentations, thus making the presenter and the audience more engaged. In my own classroom, students who use PowerPoint, for example, express greater confidence than those who don’t. Perhaps this is because they have invested more time into the design and creation of their presentations rather than simply writing notes to be read aloud. In addition to PowerPoint, however, there are newer, more innovative presentation platforms that allow for even more creativity and innovation. Two of these programs are Prezi and VoiceThread.

Prezi is a web-based program that allows presenters to “create more of a canvas presentation instead of a sequential slide presentation” (Hamilton, 2010). One can include videos as well as text and pictures. Presentations can also be created online and then downloaded, so no internet connection is required. There are free applications for educators, or, for a small fee of as little as $5.00 per month, students and teachers can have a more robust account. In addition, Prezi allows for sharing with classmates and having multiple contributors to the presentation (

A newer, and perhaps even more dynamic program for presentations is VoiceThread. As another web-based application, VoiceThread allows users to upload, share, and discuss documents, presentations, images, audio files and videos. In addition, users can comment on VoiceThread slides using multiple options such as microphone, webcam, text, phone, and audio-file upload, and keep a VoiceThread private by sharing it with specific people. Fees for VoiceThread vary but individual licenses start at $99.00 per year (

By incorporating these tools into the language classroom, teachers can help students build confidence in their speaking and presentations skills, which will help them to not only hone their language skills, but hopefully bring them back into the classroom in a more engaged way.


Published September 17, 2015



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