Inspired by a previous post by Travis Cote, I decided to dive in and download Haiku Deck to my iPhone. Travis noted the app was really easy to use, so I thought it would make for an interesting story if I downloaded the app on my iPhone and attempt to make a slide show and blog entry during my 90 minute commute home on the train. Here’s what transpired.
Once I found myself a seat on the train, I hit the iTunes store. To my surprise, the only result that appeared when I searched for “Haiku Deck” was zen deck. As I was somewhat excited about my app review and blog post challenge, I decided to push forward with the 99¢ purchase of the app. (It should be noted here that I was able to find Haiku Deck in a later search of the Japanese iTunes store, and it was here that I learned Haiku Deck is only available on iOS for iPads.)
After downloading zen deck, I got to work creating my first slideshow. My plan was to create a presentation on 5 tips for Choosing a Classroom Blog platform. (embedded below)
As Travis suggested, making the slides was a breeze. Again, the opportunity to add relevant images from Flickr (free high-quality Creative Commons licensed photos selected by zen deck) or locally from my iPhone was fantastic.
True to the description in the app store, one really could “select the perfect layout for each slide with one tap”.
Unfortunately, after I had my five slides ready to go, trouble set in. Firstly, I saved my slideshow and the pictures somehow changed between slides. Then, the app froze, thereby ending my challenge to create a slide-show and blog entry during my commute home.
The following day, I checked in on the app once more. This time I was able to save my document safely, and I went about trying to post it here.
As you can see with this final product, I was able to generate very simple slides with some attractive images. I would prefer to have the option to write with lower case text, but the app didn’t allow for it.
Zen deck has a number of interesting options for sharing your slides. First, one chooses a format, either PPTX, ZenDeck or PDF, and then you choose between Document Folder, Dropbox, SlideShare or Email to save or export your slides. As of writing however, I was only able to save a PPTX or PDF file to my Dropbox folder and send these documents as an email attachment. Although I was able to export my slides from zen deck, I feel the app needs to make it easier for users to export their work directly into a blog, LMS or social networking site for example.
Lastly, when comparing Haiku Deck and zen deck, Haiku Deck is free while zen deck is 99¢ for iOS and free for Android devices. Haiku Deck presentations can only be produced on the iPad platform, whereas zen deck slides can be produced on iPads, iPhones and Android devices. If a teacher can convince their class’ iOS users to part with 99¢, zen deck could be more useful and fun for the whole language classroom. I was able to get students in one of my university classes to download zen deck and create a five slide presentation in 30 minutes. This experience illustrated how easy it was for students to use the software. When it came time to present, the app’s slideshow function enabled students to move around the classroom and make multiple presentations using their smart-phone’s screen. The slides attracted a lot of interest during presentations and I observed how the text restrictions prevented students from simply reading their slides. What is more, during the design phase, I saw how these text restrictions pushed each my students to refine the key messages they wanted to get across.
I wonder if you’ve found a mobile app which works great for training presentation skills in your classroom?
I’d love to try another app review during my next evening commute!