Convert PowerPoint Presentation Into an eLearning Module

January 29, 2023 Off By JR

This post, Convert PowerPoint Presentation Into an eLearning Module, came across my feed via Downes. Downes comments,

The audience for an article like this is a corporate or commercial e-learning provider working either for a company or freelance looking to quickly produce content that … can be interactive and may include activities, quizzes, videos, and other multimedia elements to enhance the learning experience.” … The courses I’m subjected to at NRC were probably produced this way.

I think he’s right about the target audience. It is interesting to see how different elearning design workflows and products differ between higher ed (particularly what gets served up to students) and other sectors. What’s more interesting is that sometimes what I saw in higher ed was a lot of rich text HTML pages built using the tools within the LMS, but staff training was served up in SCORM packages that would use tools suggested in this article.

The amount of courses that are still made as PowerPoint first, regardless of context, is pretty staggering. So the article points out a few differences between a PowerPoint course, and an elearning (converted) course. More of what is described in the article would fall under “level-1” elearning, which is the very simplest conversion:

What is the difference between eLearning Module and PowerPoint?

An eLearning module is a digital educational resource that is typically delivered online and is accessed via a computer or mobile device. It can be self-paced or instructor-led and is designed to provide learners with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in a particular subject or job. ELearning modules can be interactive and may include activities, quizzes, videos, and other multimedia elements to enhance the learning experience.

On the other hand, PowerPoint is a presentation software that allows users to create and deliver presentations using a variety of templates, graphics, and animation effects. PowerPoint presentations are often used in classrooms, meetings, and other settings to communicate ideas and information to an audience.

While both eLearning modules and PowerPoint presentations can be used for educational purposes, there are some key differences between the two:

  • Accessibility: eLearning modules are typically delivered online and can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection, making them a convenient and flexible option for learners. PowerPoint presentations, on the other hand, are typically delivered in person and may not be as easily accessible to learners.
  • Interactivity: eLearning modules can include interactive elements, such as activities, quizzes, and multimedia, to engage learners and allow them to apply what they have learned. On the other hand, PowerPoint presentations are generally less interactive and may rely more on text and static visuals.
  • Tracking and assessment: eLearning modules often include tools to track learning progress and retention, such as quizzes and surveys, to help learners assess their understanding of the material. PowerPoint presentations may not have these types of assessment tools built in.
  • Maintenance and updates: eLearning modules can be easily updated and maintained to ensure that the content remains current and relevant. PowerPoint presentations may require more manual updates and may not be easily modified.

Ultimately, whether you choose an eLearning module or a PowerPoint presentation, it will depend on your learning objectives, target audience, and the type of content you want to deliver. Both can be effective tools for education and training, but eLearning modules may offer more flexibility and interactivity for learners.

There are some quibbles here. First is accessibility. The way most elearning is deployed requires a consistent internet connection. A PPT could be accessed via the web and kept locally, which I’d argue is more accessible. One notable example of a hybrid between the two options though is not mentioned in the article, Evolve. They have a feature that caches interactions and transmits the data when an internet connection is reliable. This is a great idea that I think could be deployed in other elearning tools, but I’ve only seen it with Evolve (built on Adapt) so far. Also, some elearning authoring tools take accessibility seriously, and others have instructional designers screaming after accessibility audits and no options in their expensive tools to make the required corrections.

Interactivity: Literally, the only thing listed here that these tools include that PPT does not are quizzes. You can make quizzes in PPT, but what’s actually missing underneath is the ability to report.  Speaking of reporting, tracking and assessment seems about right.

Maintenance and updates is an odd description here. If you make really flashy (no pun intended) elearning modules updates might be easy if you have the tool. In most organizations I’d say more people have access to PPT than to the elearning tools so who can update becomes limited, which can negatively impact workflow. Combine that with the expensive subscription models most of the authoring tools adopted (sigh) and even fewer people can make edits. Finally, the specific UI for some elearning tools leaves so much to be desired. One example I ran into recently was trying to copy a number of RISE360 courses. Bulk copy? HA! nope.

The article mentions four tools to achieve this kind of easy level-1 elearning conversion: Articulate360 (Storyline specifically), Adobe Captivate (came up from Authorware from the 90s), iSpring Suite (I last used this in like 2013), and Elucidat (I haven’t used this one). It is hard to pair down elearning authoring tools. I currently have a list of like 200+ tools going while working on a book chapter on the subject. What is notable about these tools mentioned (except Elucidate, note my non-experience with it) is that they adopted the slide metaphor for elearning courses. Articulate and iSpring in particular stemmed from early days of rapid authoring which usually meant the tool was actually a PowerPoint plugin. You’d still author your stuff in PPT and then when you needed a quiz, you’d click the little plug-in button in the ribbon and get quiz and export options (i.e. SCORM output options).

It is interesting reading this article alongside another post I saw recently, On Missing Flash and Hitting Pages by Pat Lockely.

given PowerPoints almost complete, insurmountable dominance of teaching material, it makes sen for articulate to be almost PowerPoint. Most windows user interfaces are about the same, so if you want adoption , there’s a skill in being as close to something else as you can be. There’s no learning curve if you’ve done it before…then I thought it’s telling these are all still pages and how did PowerPoint and the projector change the blackboard. You could wipe a blackboard, but also augment it, or go from one side to the other. PowerPoint and projector world is left click and set resolutions.

how would you even replace PowerPoint?

There are lots of hook’s in Pat’s post to think about, but two in this section strike me. One is about pages. So many elearning tools originated using the slide metaphor, and so we’re really fighting against entrenched ideas of how elearning is supposed to look and function. I see some breakaway’s from this: Adapt, and RISE360 are two. Adapt for example is a framework that uses the article/block/component arrangement for content creation. So you start to get courses that could look more like the web than before. The other deeply entrenched thing we’re up against (if looked to replace PPT) is that everyone uses it for EVERYTHING. Teaching a class? PowerPoint. Presentations? PowerPoint. Jeopardy? PowerPoint. etc. It’s not necessarily bad to use PPT, it depends a lot on the purpose and application.