It is not uncommon to walk into a classroom or a presentation room all excited about the what is to be delivered, only to experience the slow death of droning words that accompany a million slides of content. That experience is commonly referred to as “death by PowerPoint” and unfortunately it is very much a part of how lessons and presentations are delivered today. As communicative beings, humans become easily put off by these things. Whether the setting accommodates five or five thousand, the best presentations allow for reflection, interaction and collaboration. It was for these purposes that Mentimeter was created.
Resurrecting the PowerPoint
Mentimeter was launched in 2014 and is a presentation software that allows the facilitator to make his/her presentation more interactive. This online application lets presenters ask various types of questions to their audience and allows the audience to respond via their internet enabled hand held or mobile devices. Responses then instantly appear in the presentation itself for all to see. The result is lively interactive sessions that provide participants with opportunities to share ideas and opinions, vote on issues and see what others are thinking. The facilitator is also enabled to capture these thoughts and ideas right there in the presentation and has an opportunity to revisit those contributions long after the presentation is made. The implications here are significant. It means that teachers, speakers, presenters no longer have an excuse to bore students and participants to death. Face to face presentations can be reflective, interactive and fun.
It’s not fair to compare
While presenting in Mentimeter does on allow the user the same kind of graphic options as if one were using PowerPoint, the ability of the software to capture live and real-time responses in the actual presentation (whilst it is being delivered) is definitely a game changer. Participants can be polled, quizzed, questioned, given points and declared winners during a presentation. Responses can be shared anonymously or participants can be identified and linked to response. Responses can be exported and stored in other formats such as Microsoft Excel and used to inform other presentations. Questions placed on the Mentimeter platform can be reused in other presentations and data collected can be added to responses given in previous sessions. Mentimeter can analyze the data collected to identify trends and patterns and data collected against a question can be erased to facilitate the use of selected questions. The most exciting feature of Mentimeter is that presenters are not limited to the use of the online platform. Mentimeter has a plug-in that can be downloaded and integrated into PowerPoint so that users enjoy the graphics and animation elements of Powerpoint while at the same time utilizing the strong interactive elements of Mentimeter. The software requires no downloads or installations, but is accessed by simply creating an account at www.mentimeter.com. Participants and students are given a specific URL and a code to access the portal and from there submit their responses to questions posed.
Shifting the Paradigm
There is no denying that tools like Mentimeter are redefining the way presentations are made today, just like the PowerPoint did 1987. They represent the next phase in the continuous move away from a “banking approach to education” as explained by Paulo Freire, to an approach that recognizes the value of the experience of the student. Mentimeter enhances communication, collaboration and feedback in the delivery process. It also rekindles active reflection, competition and gamification in the learning process while reversing boredom and predictability. There is strong doubt that any tool will ever make the PowerPoint obsolete, but Mentimeter surely breathes new life into it.