Tag Archives: #bubbl

Prezi and Bubbl.us

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www.Prezi.com and www.bubbl.us are two websites which offer some useful tools for teachers.  Prezi is an interesting alternative to PowerPoint, but which can be used in other ways; Bubbl.us is a very simple mind-mapping tool that allows for collaborative working, and is very effective as a revision tool.

Prezi

At heart, Prezi is an alternative to PowerPoint, and you can create some very flash presentations that zoom and wheel around between your various ‘slides’, and many boys, especially those more inclined to visual learning, enjoy using it to produce some very professional-looking work.

How it works

Think of Prezi as a very large, electronic flipchart, on which you can prepare words, images and text to present to your audience.  The amazing thing about this flipchart is that you can zoom in on any part and draw your audience’s attention to it, and then skip to entirely different parts of the sheet and look at something else.  It’s very hard to describe in words, but try clicking on this link to see what it looks like in practice.

What it’s good for

Because Prezi works like a diagram that you can zoom in to and around, it is brilliant at showing relationships between ideas and information, so you could use it as a really flashy alternative to a flow chart.

Another powerful function of Prezi is the ability to zoom almost infinitely on a part of the screen, so you can:

  • Hide an answer within  a question and zoom in to reveal it
  • Zoom in on parts of an image or diagram
  • Zoom out to remind students of how everything fits together.

What else can it do?

You can embed YouTube videos in it (just copy the Youtube address and paste it in).

 What it’s less good for

Compared to PowerPoint, Prezi is slower, and does need more careful preparation (I recommend you sketch your ideas out beforehand, or your presentation can turn into a bit of a mess), and you can’t easily print it out.  You also need to be online to use it.  It’s also less good at simply presenting information, especially verbal information, than PowerPoint.  Lastly, the zoom and wheel functions can leave your audience rather seasick!

How do I start using it?

When you first visit the website you’ll need to sign up for an account.  There are a range of options, but the best for teachers is the ‘EduEnjoy’ licence, which offers nearly the full range of functions for free.   If you want your class to use Prezi, make sure they register themselves using their school accounts, preferably before you go into the ICT suite for your lesson, so as to save time.  Get the boys to plan their work on paper before starting online – this not only saves faffing around, but also makes the boys spend more time thinking through their ideas and how best to express them.

Bubbl.us

Bubbl.us is a very simple mind-mapping tool which I have found great for getting boys to work together, especially for revision and consolidation.

How it works

Bubbl.us is similar to Prezi in that it is effectively a large sheet of electronic ‘paper’ on which you can create mind-maps, with the freedom to drag things around and rearrange them as you wish.  It’s wonderfully simple: simply type in a box and press Ctrl+Enter (at the same time) to produce a ‘child’ from that box.  If you want to produce a ‘sibling’, simply press tab.  You can delete boxes at any time; if you drag one box over another, then that box becomes a child of the one it’s hovering over.

More powerful is the ability to share work between different users, so you can produce a mind map which you get the boys to work on.  To do this, you can make use of the contacts system, whereby boys can request to add you as a contact by searching for your e-mail address, and you can approve their request.  Having approved them, you can group them into appropriate groups – by class, for example.  If you’d like help using the groups function, come and give me a shout or drop me  a line – it’s easiest understood when you’re doing it, rather than reading about it.

What it’s good for

As with any mind-map, Bubbl.us is good for organising ideas and exploring concepts.  What makes the online version interesting is how you can challenge boys to think in different ways.  For example:

  • You could give the boys headings and ask them to add ‘children’ bubbles, adding relevant information.
  • In English, we might give the name of the character, and boys add quotations associated with that character.

Click here for an example.

  • Instead of giving the headings and asking the boys to add information, you could give them the structure of the mind-map, but with blank headings, so that the boys have to work out the categories.
  • To continue the example from above, I might give the boys the quotations and ask them to work out which character they are associated with.  Click here for an example.
  • Create the mind-map, but remove all the links, so that the boys have to decide the best order to organise the points on the page.

What else can it do?

If you want to print your work, use the Export function, and choose ‘jpeg’.  This will allow you to download a picture of your mind-map to your computer, which can be printed and marked / stuck into an exercise book, for example.

What it’s less good for

Bubbl.us’ strength is its simplicity, but that ease of use does mean that it is not an advanced mind-mapping tool.  You cannot upload images, link to YouTube or anything like that.  Do be aware that load/save times can be long, so make sure you have paper to hand so they can start planning their mind-maps while waiting for the website to load.

If you share a sheet with a group, they can only open it one-at-a-time, so I recommend you share it with them before the lesson, and ask them to open it and use the Save A Copy function so they have their own version of it.  Doing this before the lesson will reduce the time wasted by people complaining they can only open a ‘read-only’ version of the file!

How do I start using it?

Registration and getting started are really easy, so just get stuck in!  Feel free to ask for my help if you’d like to use it in a lesson and want some assistance.