Beyond PowerPoint

Many faculty utilize PowerPoint for classroom presentations. However, over the past few years, several alternatives to PowerPoint have emerged that provide news ways to both create and display presentations that enable instructors to go beyond a traditional slide show. Choosing the best presentation platform requires identifying a program that best meets your teaching style and technology needs. What follows is a brief overview of some of the most popular presentation methods available for use via software and on the web.

Software-based Options

Like PowerPoint, these option require the purchase and installation of software. As a result, instructors interested in using a software-based presentations must purchase and install these programs on their own computer in order to create presentations. Those presentation may then be run from a laptop, mobile device, or in-class computer.


While faculty have probably noticed an expansion of Apple products around the university, you may not be aware of Apple's answer to PowerPoint:  Keynote. Included as part of the iWorks suite, Keynote brings Apple's typical ease of use to presentations and can be used to create and run presentations. Keynote has several easy to use "Power Point-like" features that allow you get started quickly:  professional design themes, basic animation, and effects. The application also has strong tools for creating graphs and charts. Keynote also utilizes the Alpha Tool, which gives users the ability to crop or remove areas of an image.

Keynote is available for use on Mac laptops, phones, and tablets. However, Keynote presentations can also be saved to the cloud, so that you can access them on other devices that are connected to the Internet. Keynote can also be saved in various common file formats, including Power Point, QuickTime, PDF, and can even be uploaded directly to YouTube for future viewing. For more information about Keynote, visit  Apple's Keynote site.

PDF Portfolio

PDF portfolio is a useful option for presenting. With PDF Portfolio, you can take presentations, documents, images, videos, and other media they you have created or gathered from other sources, and combine them into one, uniform presentation that is ideal for fluid presenting and sharing.  

Using PDF files involves creating a slide show presentation in another program, saving the presentation as a PDF, and then opening and presenting them as PDF. The benefits of using PDF are portability, compatibility, and security. Virtually all computers, tables, and smart phones can display PDFs. As a result, if you save your slides as a PDF you can easily access it and present it using a portable device. With PDF, you need not worry about your slides presenting properly. Since all fonts are embedded in the file, the slide will appear just as it did when you originally created and saved it.  Furthermore, PDF security features can prevent a file from being altered and limit who can access it. For more information, including a video demo, take a look at Adobe's PDF Portfolio site

Online Presentation Tools

There are a wide variety of presentation tools that are available on the web for free.  Online presentation platforms come with inherent benefits and drawbacks. The major benefits are access and portability. If you use one of these online presentation tools, you do not need to download software. As a result, you are not required to work on your presentation on one computer or device. By using an online presentation platform, you can access your presentation wherever there is an Internet connection. Of course, this is also the biggest drawback - if you can not get online, you can not access your presentation.


Prezi is one of the more unique presentation tools. It offers a much more free form way of presenting. Instead of laying out each slide separately, you create your presentation on a canvas that can be navigated in virtually any order. As a result, the presentation can be run organically, in response to the flow of the classroom discussion and focused on subject areas that require more attention.

Prezi offers a free education account that provides more features and storage space. Prezi also enables users to easily import PowerPoint presentations. So you can take existing PowerPoint slides and use Prezi to organize and present. Portable Prezi is another notable feature. It posts the presentation online and allows you to share it with students. When considering whether to utilize Prezi, you should bear in mind that because it offers a novel way of running a presentation, there is also a learning curve involved in getting started. Get started at

Google Presentation

Google Presentation is an easy way to create and present, all online. It allows you to create a new slide show or import a PowerPoint presentation. The interface is very simple and easy to use. Google Presentation creates files that can easily be shared in various file formats. It is also easy to import other formats and is very PowerPoint friendly.  However, Google Presentation has fairly limited features and no way of making charts. As a result, is not the best match for faculty interested in creating more than a basic slide show. Google Presentation is accessible for users with a Gmail account.

Slide Rocket

SlideRocket is a comprehensive online presentation app that incorporates virtually all of the features offered by PowerPoint. Additional useful features include a library from which you can quickly access items you use often, such as slides, images, videos, audio files, and flash animations. SlideRocket also allows for the creation of full featured charts and lets you link to Google spreadsheets. Take a tour at SlideRocket's official site.

Tablet and Smart Phone Considerations

There are several apps for portable devices that can be used to present and create slide shows on the go. SlideShark and Showpad are great ways to view an existing PowerPoint presentation on a tablet. Google Presentations also has an app version available for Apple and Android devices. The Keynote app allows for full presentation and creation. It is integrated with iCloud, meaning you can save your presentation to the cloud and access it from other devices. The main limitation of Keynote is that is only compatible with Apple devices.

For more info about recommended apps for phones and tablets, check out our article on top apps for instructors.

If you have any questions about using the various presentation programs in your class, please contact us. We have staff available for technology consultations on each campus. We also off a Beyond PowerPoint workshop. For more information, visit the Workshops page.