Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Creating Engaging Courses on a Low Budget Using PowerPoint


Engagement can increase retention in courses With the explosion of online learning comes the issue of student attrition. It is well known that there is about a 10 -20% higher attrition rate for online students. One factor found in many studies is the lack of student engagement.According to one ASQ study*, "Today’s online students are clamoring for more technology—to build relationships, communicate in real-time, collaborate within an online community and engage in the learning process." Therefore student engagement should be a main focus when developing online courses. This is most effectively done by using different learning strategies customized to the content and the students’ pre-existing knowledge. With the use of various software applications and instructional strategies, courses developed with this high level of engagement need not be difficult or extremely costly. *Jamison V. Kovach and Lee Revere,"An Overview of Online Technologies that Improve Engaged Learning," ASQ Higher Education Brief December 2010 (Vol. 3, No. 6) http://rube.asq.org/edu/2010/12/continuous-improvement/an-overview-of-online-technologies-that-improve-engaged-learning.pdf  

Beefed-up Power Points can be very interactive Most people have experienced a boring PowerPoint presentation with someone reading the slides to them. However, if done well, PowerPoint presentations can make very engaging and cost effective online courses. By including various elements, the presentations can be polished and professional and very engaging. First, some general guidelines for any online course presentation, ensure that: the amount of text is limited; timing is correct if using animation, audio or video; font is consistent and the appropriate size; video and audio are clear and the volume is consistent; and images have the same resolution. Elements that increase engagement in a presentation include: Animation - Keep it simple! Use to accentuate essential information and focus attention on specific content. Audio -Audio can be included to present the meat of the course with the screens showing bulleted main points. To ensure clear correct information in the audio the content should be written in a script and practiced before it is recorded. Video - Short video clips can be added for a variety of purposes: to demonstrate something, provide real world examples, add humor, or add a recorded message from an expert in the content. Whatever the purpose, video clips can increase engagement if they are relevant and are not too long. Engaging Learning objects - Interactive activities can be embedded in presentations to enhance them. eLearning 
Tools that can be used to increase engagement: There are many free or inexpensive tools that can be used to enhance PowerPoint presentations. Searches on the internet will provide many choices. I have found the following to be very easy to use and of high quality. Jing: A free downloadable application from the makers of Camtasia and Snagit that can be used to capture screen shots of parts of or the entire window. Text boxes, arrows, highlights or captions can be added to the captured image. Jing also records up to 5 minute video clips of an area on the computer screen. These can simple movements of the mouse or more complex tutorial of tasks completed on the computer. Audacity - A free downloadable application that records and edits audio files. Wax - A free downloadable stand alone or add in application that edits video files. Raptivity - A rapid interactive building tool that helps to quickly create learning interactions in HTML5 & flash formats that can easily be embedded into PowerPoint presentations. It supports more than 180 interactions. For example, in corporate training, the Build Up and Rollover interaction can be used to illustrate how systems within the corporation interrelate and work together. The Flow Chart interaction can be useful in both corporate or compliance training as it presents processes in detail with audio explanations. In addition, the Software Simulations and Interactive Questions interactions add value and engage participants in all types of courses. There are many choices of interactivities that will enhance any PowerPoint presentation. I hope this blog provided some new ideas for creating more engaging courses using PowerPoint which won't break your budget. Please share your ideas with us. What strategies and tools do you use with PowerPoint to make courses more interactive and engaging? What other techniques do you use to increase engagement in online training? What challenges do you typically face when creating online training or courses?

Note: This blog has been posted by Raptivity Marketing Team on behalf of Ann Jackson. 

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