Monday, September 3, 2012

E-Learning with PowerPoint

It seems like everyone wants to get in on the e-learning craze these days. Whether for a business, nonprofit, educational institution or even just personal instruction, electronic learning is a versatile and dynamic way to convey information. But where does that learning content come from? 

Sure, you could spend thousands of dollars on content creation, purchasing expensive and complicated software or even outsourcing the entire project. However, that is not realistic for most people. Fortunately, quality content can be built using the tools you probably already have available. Even a modest modern PC can be used to develop sophisticated presentations far beyond what the average user could have done only a few years ago.

Take a look at PowerPoint, one of the most widely used tools for creating business presentations. Most likely you already have the software on your home or office PC. Whether you are doing public speaking or distance learning, PowerPoint can enhance the educational value of your presentations. It is easy to learn and easy to use, so you can build engaging e-learning content complete with animation, multimedia, even Web content, with just a few clicks. 

The great thing about PowerPoint is that anyone can do it - you don’t need to be a programmer, graphic designer or even an advanced computer user. If you can navigate a basic word processing program, you can find your way around PowerPoint. It is one of the easiest and best ways to create your e-learning courses.

A complete overview of how to use the software is beyond the scope of this article, but we’ll give you a few helpful tips to get you started:

1) Plan Ahead: Before you dive in and start creating your presentation, draft up an outline of what you will present. This can be as simple as a list of topics, or as complex as a full script. Decide what works best for you and your subject material.

2) Use Graphics...but Cautiously: Don’t go crazy with the clipart and auto-shapes. We’ve all seen those presentations, overloaded with corny graphics and lots of bright colors. For the most part, this approach makes your e-learning content look amateurish, and it doesn’t add real value. Go for a clean design with subtle and sparingly-used images. Choose meaningful charts and diagrams that illustrate your point, rather than clipart and stock photography that just makes more clutter.

3) Complement Yourself: An oft-repeated adage is that your PowerPoint slides should complement, rather than reiterate, your presentation. If you are just reading from the slides, your presentation is little more than a glorified cue card. This applies to video training and online learning courses as well as in-person public speaking events. Whatever supplemental materials accompany your presentation - and that can be anything from you speaking to an audience to electronic documents - should expand upon the content in your presentation, not simplyrehash it.

You can do some amazing things in PowerPoint, which makes for stunning and effective e-learning presentations. Of course, the above suggestions are just starting points. Spend some time getting familiar with the software and you’ll discover all kinds of ways you can present your content better than ever before.

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