Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of PowerPoint



PowerPoint based learning

The Good

  • Readily available, since it is included in the Microsoft Office software and the most widely used tool for putting together content for presentations

  • Easy to learn and use

  • Very linear  - in other words, learners must move through each slide to get to the end

  • Required to build your own graphics—no graphics, backgrounds or games that you can insert into your courses

The Bad

  • Very linear  - in other words, learners must move through each slide to get to the end

  • Required to build your own graphics—no graphics, backgrounds or games that you can insert into your courses

The Ugly

(Have you seen PowerPoint slides with nothing but bullets and text?)

  • Monotonous page turners—each slide looks the same, with too much text, which can cause learners to lose interest

  • Unable to build interactive and engaging learning easily—no games, characters, or templates to easily add to enhance your training


Back to the Good…

The good news is you can use 2010 PowerPoint features to transform and enrich a presentation. You can also embed different media formats (.mov, .mp4, and .swf) from a file directly into slides to add engaging interactions or videos.

Or, you can start with PowerPoint to craft content, and then import the content into eLearning authoring software, such as Adobe Captivate, Articulate, or Lectora, to create engaging eLearning.

Authoring Tools and PowerPoint

Many eLearning authoring software tools exist that allow you to import PowerPoint slides. You can use the features of your authoring tool to add audio, graphics, assessments, etc. to your eLearning course.

Adobe Captivate

You can import existing PowerPoint slides into Adobe Captivate and then enhance these slides by adding audio, animations, video or other Captivate objects. In addition, one author can edit the slides in PowerPoint, while the other can keep working in Captivate.

To ensure you are always working on the latest PowerPoint version, Captivate provides a sync function.

Articulate Presenter

Articulate Presenter works in PowerPoint and allows you to add narration and media and turn your slides into an engaging Flash course. It also has branching features so that you can build scenarios and let your learners make decisions.


Like Captivate, Lectora allows you to import an existing PowerPoint presentation. You then can use Lectora features to enhance it with characters, templates, videos, buttons, etc.

These are just three examples of authoring tools that support importing PowerPoint. Of course, there are many other tools on the market ranging from PowerPoint plugins to web-based tools.  This confirms that most eLearning authors turn to PowerPoint first to create content before taking it to the next step ,i.e., authoring tools.

Making PowerPoint more Interactive

Of course, you can also work in PowerPoint to build an eLearning course and then enhance it by using other tools. Whether you are using just PowerPoint or an authoring tool, you need to make sure the training is engaging and really stands out. An Interactivity Builder, such as Raptivity, used in conjunction with these tools, makes it very easy to achieve that purpose.   For example, by adding interactivity, such as a game like Jeopardy or Bingo, into boring compliance or technical online training, you create a learning environment that encourages learners to interact with the content.

Ann Jackson lists many free or inexpensive tools to enhance your slides in her post, Creating Engaging Courses on a Low Budget using PowerPoint.

With eLearning authoring software and interactivity builders, you too can turn bad, ugly PowerPoint presentations into good-looking and interactive eLearning courses.

Please share any tips you have for transforming your blah PowerPoint slides by using any of these tools. We would love to see your work!


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