Images, as you know, can help enrich points or stories being conveyed. And, there is really a biological and cognitive basis for this. In fact, the brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text; and visual aids were found to improve learning by as far up as 400% (Gillett, 2014). Visuals do seem to engage people more than just plain text. It is then no surprise that Tweets with attached images are 94% more likely to get retweeted than those without as observed by Dan Zarrella, a HubSpot social media scientist (Woolaston, 2013).
Furthermore, it was also found that presentations with visual aids are 43% more persuasive. Beyond mere imparting of facts, the use of presentation software has moved towards the facilitation of higher-order skills, including creativity, problem-solving, analysis, and evaluation (Holmes and Gardener, 2006).
Presentation software has played an important role in shifting classroom discussions from one that is teacher-centered to student-centered. The style, content, and structure will depend on the purpose of the presentation. For example, a presentation that aims to discuss a particular book chapter would be different from an analytical presentation of a case study. The former would make use of illustrations to show a mind map, while the latter may require highlighting particular data against the main findings of the analysis, swiping or flipping slides back and forth, as part of the entire discussion. Thus, depending on the objectives of the presentation, students should be able to identify the best presentation tool for a particular task.
This article provides a list of the seven best presentation software tools students can choose from. As an important aspect of each student's coursework, creating presentations for class discussions facilitate higher-order thinking. Knowing the functionality and unique features of each presentation tool would help you decide which presentation apps for students is best for specific course requirements.
Would you rather write an essay than do a presentation? Many students fail to realize that doing a class presentation is part of their training and is a crucial aspect of the learning process. Classroom presentation builds communication skills, but what is more important is preparation. It is even similar to the procedure of writing a book. The process of preparing a class presentation teaches teamwork through collaboration, and at the same time unlocks creativity. The depth of understanding of the student is reflected in how a particular topic is presented.
While icebreaker questions for college students, workers, or other potential listeners would work to make a speaker comfortable, a well-prepared and organized presentation leads to a confident presenter. The overall design of a presentation boosts confidence. This highlights the importance of knowing the different features and functionalities of presentation tools that are crucial to creating a polished and seamless presentation.
Source: Jabeen & Ghani (2015)
The two most important measures of presentation effectiveness are 'well-organized presentation' and 'enjoyable content.' Given this, choosing a presentation tool is crucial as the features would determine the effectiveness and content quality. Preparing presentations can be a daunting task for students. Since classroom presentation is just one of the requirements of coursework, a good presentation software that provides flexibility in terms of designing, editing, and sharing real-time would be preferred. Presentation software users find that the top three challenges faced when making a presentation are: (1) crafting a compelling story, (2) designing a creative layout, and (3) finding and using great visuals (Alshare and Hindi, 2004). And since student presentations are usually assessed and form part of overall module mark and credit, it is very important to choose a presentation tool that can help deliver a clear, organized, and visually stimulating presentation. What factors should you consider in choosing the best presentation tools for students?
What differentiates the concept of usability from "ease of use"? Ease of use describes how easily users can use a product. Some software users often interchange the terms ease of use with usability, but ISO 9241-11 standard on usability defines usability as "The extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals, with effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction in a specified context of use" (Bevan, Carter and Harker, 2015). Usability matters because it involves satisfaction with the level of efficiency and effectiveness of the tool being used. Usability also includes the ease of setup or the time it takes to install the software before you can use it. Hence, in looking for the best presentation tool, usability is one of the crucial factors to consider.
After you have assessed usability, the next factor to consider is cost. Before you choose a presentation software to use, it is important to check the cost. There are free presentation tools, such as Google Slides, all you need to have is a Google account. The WPS Office also comes with free presentation software that is very similar to Microsoft's PowerPoint.
Many online presentation software offer free trials. this means that you get to use the software for a very limited time. Some presentation software have a free plan with limited features, with all the features and functionality made available once you upgrade to a paid plan. Usually, the pricing reflects the monthly costs as charged annually, thus you also have to check that. If you intend to pay per month, the cost would be higher compared to the cost of paying annually. Also, almost all presentation software has a special discounted pricing for the education sector and some even offer it for free to eligible students.
After you have determined the pricing structure of the presentation software, the next thing to consider is if you would be able to create your own design. There are basically two types of presentation tools - slideware or canvas-based. Slideware uses the linear flow and usual features include text editing, multimedia inserting, and display formatting. Keynote, Canva, PowerPoint, and Google Slides are some examples of presentation tools that follow the linear presentation flow. On the other hand, canvas-based presentation tools can both be designed to have linear and non-linear flow. Compared to slideware, in canvas-based presentations, the elements are placed within one big canvas. SlideDog and Prezi are examples of this type of presentation tool, which can also be converted to slideware.
The flexibility of the presentation tool in terms of design is important to know because there are applications that do not have a blank slide or canvas. These presentation tools only offer pre-designed, customized slides, thus leaving you, the user, very little room to create your own design. A good presentation tool should offer flexibility to the user, and customization options as well. Note, however, that a presentation tool that offers ready-made slides can be really useful if you are preparing presentations on the fly.
To ensure that audience attention is sustained, your presentation software should have the basic features. Check if you can easily embed content, add audio, and add videos or movie clips. Check the types of media available in the graphic assets library. A good presentation tool should be media-rich. Does the built-in library offer high-quality graphics and images? Can you add animated elements to your presentation? Also, check current user reviews to find out if the graphic assets are updated on a regular basis, otherwise, you might get stuck with a presentation software that has an outdated design library.
Source: Venngage Presentation Design Statistics
For students, most presentations are done in groups. Since most classroom meetings are now virtual due to the pandemic, it is important to pick a presentation software that allows real-time co-authoring. Team collaboration is a crucial part of the learning process, and in preparing presentations. Using a web-based presentation tool enables real-time collaboration. This would be of great help when one student is not conversant on a topic while the other has the know-how, such as with regard to how the electoral college works.
Web-based applications run on a web server and are also referred to as browser-based or server-based. Presentation tools such as Google Slides are web-based. While PowerPoint used to be computer-based only, today a web-based PowerPoint is also available, but it does not have all the features of the computer-based version. Web-based means that you can create and save presentations on your browser. Web-based presentation tools are universally accessible, all you need is a device with an internet connection.
The online performance of a presentation tool is a key factor, but at times offline performance is also crucial. There would be instances of unstable internet connection, or worse, no access to the internet at all. Thus, it is important to check the online and offline accessibility of your chosen presentation tool.
Your presentation software should be able to function across multiple devices, especially if you are also using school organization applications as this makes it easier to transfer information for your presentations. Software that works across all platforms should be preferred because not all devices use the same operating system. The difference in operating systems for personal computers (macOS, Windows, Linux), as well as the differences in mobile (iOS, Android), are major considerations in choosing a presentation software as this can be a major limitation once you start using a presentation tool. It is important to be able to access all the features of the application from any device that you are on, and also it is important to know if you would be able to show your presentation across multiple screens—tablet, laptop, or mobile.
Another factor that you have to check when choosing a presentation tool is the quality of support provided to users. Be very careful in evaluating this aspect because while some presentation software offer free plans, quality support may not be part of the package. In some cases, support may be provided but instead of satisfaction, you might end up having a headache due to poor quality of service. There are websites that provide ranking on the quality of support of these companies, it would definitely be helpful to read the reviews and feedback of other users.
PowerPoint may well be the most popular presentation software out there. So much so that the market is rife with the best online PowerPoint viewers. However, it is not your only option. These alternatives offer unique functionalities that can meet the specific requirements of users. There are different presentation platforms that have customized templates for those who prefer having ready-made designs. Blank slides or canvas are also available to those who want to be more creative in preparing presentations that would reflect their unique identity. Whatever your preference, here are the best presentation tools examples for students.
Part of Microsoft Office 365, PowerPoint is the most widely used presentation software, with over 35 million presentations given every day (in 2019) to over 500 million audiences (Westfall, 2019). PowerPoint for students, professionals, and other users is a desktop and cloud-based application that allows you to embed third-party content in your presentation. Other office applications, such as charts created in Excel can be embedded in PowerPoint. This presentation tool boasts an intuitive design and functional templates, and also comes with a suite of advanced features and collaboration tools. This makes it suitable for simple discussions like how to write references in research paper. PowerPoint also accommodates 3D objects and animations. To work together on a presentation, you have to save the PowerPoint file first to OneDrive or SharePoint on Microsoft 365. Real-time co-authoring in PowerPoint is limited as some features, such as tracking changes, are only available to desktop clients.
Google Slides is the presentation tool of Google, a browser-based presentation software offering cross-platform compatibility. As a browser-based tool, Google Slides allows real-time co-authoring, which makes it the perfect tool for students that need to collaborate on presentations. Google Slides offers unmatched features that support sharing and collaboration. Part of the Google Workspace, Google Slides is a free presentation software, all you need to have is a Google account. Compared to PowerPoint, the slide selection of Google Slides is limited but it allows the import of additional templates, and you can even create your own. One may find the graphic assets of Google Slides simple and generic, but photographs and videos can be included in your presentation or practically anything from your Google Drive. While Google Slides is known for its cross-platform compatibility, some users have experienced slight layout changes when converting to PowerPoint.
When your presentation aims to show how ideas and concepts are interrelated, Prezi is the ideal tool. Prezi is the best tool for non-linear and conversational presentations. Unlike other presentation tools that use a deck of slides, Prezi has a single giant canvas where you put all the elements of the presentation. Prezi’s smart zoom feature makes it easy to highlight one element of the presentation without flipping slides. All you have to do is click on the object and smart zoom will shift focus into that area, and you just have to click outside of the object to zoom out. Since Prezi uses one big canvas, you need to add animated paths. These animated paths make Prezi a flexible platform as the presenter can customize the flow of the presentation in real-time based on audience reaction. Not all audiences are pleased with the default fly-around animation style though. One significant feedback is the bit of a learning curve that the user needs to overcome when using Prezi for the first time.
Web, desktop, and mobile
One of the original PowerPoint alternatives, Keynote is the native Apple presentation application. Anyone with an Apple ID can access, download, and use this software. As with other Apple applications, Keynote is very easy to use and works seamlessly with PowerPoint users. Slide designs are clean and professional, which is consistent with the Apple brand. Templates come in standard and wide sizes and the graphics library contains classic symbols and icons. Keynote offers an extensive and intuitive animation interface, and the transitions (called builds) are more refined and modern. For technical presentations, Keynote offers an equation editor. Teams can collaborate in real-time in Keynote by sharing a link to the Keynote presentation. Keynote presentations can also be downloaded as PDF or in PowerPoint format for offline viewing.
First introduced as an Apple mobile application for making presentations, Haiku Deck is now a cloud-based presentation software. Designed with presentation best practices in mind, Haiku Deck promotes focus through simplicity. Most users notice the very limited amount of text that can be placed in each slide, but the software designers at Apple intended that for the user to be more mindful in choosing the exact words that could focus the attention of the audience on a single thought on each slide. The aim is to create high-impact visuals with limited text. Haiku Deck boasts 400 million free images from the Creative Commons Collection. Various customization options are also available with most features requiring the user to be online. Haiku Deck presentations can be downloaded in PowerPoint format, or as a video with narration. Collaborating is not built-in, but there are few workarounds offered in the software's support site.
Canva is considered the ultimate graphic design tool for beginners and non-designers because it is very easy to use. When you have very limited time to create a presentation, Canva is the go-to software. Canva allows for the speedy creation of presentations right in your web browser. Canva has a drag-and-drop tool, ready-made, and ready-sized templates. This graphic design application offers a rich library of stylish presentation slides that you can easily share online. There are over a million images to choose from in Canva’s searchable image library. Although simultaneous editing is not possible, Canva is always accessible online, making collaborations easier. However, some features are not accessible if you are using a mobile device. Canva presentations can be downloaded in PowerPoint format. Since Canva offers ready-made templates, customization is possible but limited, thus it is not as flexible as the other presentation tools that offer a blank slide or a blank canvas.
Best for visual storytelling, Piktochart is an intuitive, easy-to-use presentation app. It is a platform designed for design- and technology-savvy students. Piktochart is a well-designed application with top-notch templates that are ideal for classroom discussions. Students could create professional-looking infographics in just a few clicks. Piktochart creates templates by combining charts, graphs, text, and built-in graphics to easily present a concept or a set of information. Much of its functionality, however, is reserved for Pro accounts. At any given time, only one member of a team can edit a visual in Piktochart. This means that, unlike other presentation tools, real-time co-authoring is not possible if you are using Piktochart.
When you need to put together a presentation but the files that you need to include are in different file formats, SlideDog is the best tool. SlideDog is the launchpad for presentations. This piece of software is a web-based application that you can use for free, with paid subscriptions starting from $19 per month.
SlideDog is not exactly a presentation software like PowerPoint and Google Slides, which makes use of slideware or the canvas-based Prezi, but SlideDog can be considered as an interactive presentation software simply because it is used to seamlessly combine different types of media into one presentation that supports audience engagement. This innovative approach to developing presentations eliminated the hassle of converting file formats as SlideDog works with a huge range of media.
SlideDog stitches together presentations and easily combines PowerPoint, graphics, PDF, Prezi, webpages, photos, videos, and movie clips. The seamless switches feature of SlideDog creates a custom playlist that is media-rich, thus, providing an immersive experience to audiences. The custom playlist can be shared in real-time across a variety of platforms. Audiences can also click on a link to follow the presentation on their devices and interact in real-time.
Research on the effectiveness of presentation tools in content retention among students offers conflicting results. On the one hand, it is reported that PowerPoint slides increase student engagement. Another group of researchers, however, found the opposite. This prompted Brock and Joglekar (2011) to conduct an exploratory study and examine the effectiveness of PowerPoint as a teaching aid in the postsecondary classroom in a study entitled "Empowering PowerPoint: Slides and Teaching Effectiveness." Their research, which was published in the Interdisciplinary Journal of Information, Knowledge, and Management, found that "lower textual density in slides and added non-textual elements both appear to stimulate positive student feedback. Slides that are very text dense may not add to teaching effectiveness."
Slides containing no more than three bullet points and 20 or fewer words were more effective than slides with higher density. This is consistent with the Assertion-Evidence (AE) approach to the presentation of information. The AE approach in presentation uses a claim supported by visual evidence, such as a figure, diagram, or photograph. Text is kept to a minimum and used only to convey the assertion. Studies show that comprehension and recall are better with the AE approach.
Medium alone does not influence learning. While presentation tools are now ubiquitous in every class discussion, research involving students has revealed that there are instances when students prefer chalk-and-board lectures over presentation tools. This does not mean, however, that presentation tools are not effective. Presentation tools enhance teaching and learning in different ways and complement classroom teaching strategies. The seven best presentation tools for students identified in this article offer functionalities that undoubtedly enrich classroom discussions, promote teamwork and collaboration among teachers and students, and enhance the overall learning process. These seven best presentation tools are a testament to the positive benefits of technology that schools should harness to provide leading-edge training and skills to students.
Aside from presentation tools such as presentation websites for students, other tools can simplify your time in college as well as in your professional life. Among the most useful ones are timeline tools. As well, you can find free timeline maker tools if you're working on a budget for your projects.