I had a blog reader ask about the best way to animate a table in her rapid elearning course. Like a lot of things, it’s usually less about the best way and more about understanding the many ways that you can do something. Once you know what you can do, it’s easier to choose the best option that meets your objectives.
Her question did cause me to think about some of the different ways you can use tables in an elearning course. So I put together ten ideas that may help the next time you need to add a table to your course. Below is a quick demo that shows them in action. I explain more below.
The No Frills Approach
Just add the table and do nothing else. Add some narration that explains the table. If you want to make it a bit more interactive, ask the learner to look for information. One challenge with this approach is that there are no visual cues. The learner could easily lose track of the narration and where it’s at on the table.
Simple PowerPoint Animations
Use PowerPoint shapes or images to point out things on the table. Add on-click animations to the objects and you can sync the animations to your audio. This provides good visual cues and helps direct the learner’s focus.
A downside to this approach is the time it takes to build the animations and get them just right. Also, if you want to print out the PowerPoint files, you have to remove all of the animations from the slide. Otherwise, they’ll cover up the content.
Progressive Reveal Animations
Another way to use on-click animations is to cover the table with rectangles. Set them to fade out on mouse click. Then as you talk and click the animation, the box fades away. It looks like the table is actually fading in.
This looks nice and is a bit easier to build and manage than the other types of PowerPoint animations. You still have to remove the objects if you want to print the slides.
Articulate Presenter has that cool annotations feature. They look great and can be added on the fly. So there’s no building of animations or cluttering your slides with content you have to remove prior to printing.
Annotations are probably my favorite solution. I just like the way they look and using them is really no different than how you might use a laser pointer. Of all the solutions it’s probably the easiest.
Duplicate Slides & Hyperlinks in PowerPoint
If you want to get a little trickier and add more content than just audio narration, then this approach may work for you. Essentially you make a duplicate slide for each category. Then add hyperlinks to those slides.
The benefit to this approach is that it makes the entire slide area open to you as you focus on a single point of information. In the demo, I show a few different ideas. The negative to this approach is that it requires a lot more work. But if you have the right type of table and content it is a neat way to do it.
Create a HTML Table
Sometimes the table content is dynamic and can change more frequently than you choose to publish the course. Using the web object feature is a great way to avoid a bunch of extra work.
What you do is create the table as a HTML file; then place it on a server. Insert the URL as a web object and publish your course. You can update the table on the server and it’
s automatically updated in the course.
Adding Interactive Multimedia
Sometimes, tables are just boring. It’s cool when you can augment the table’s information with audio, images, and videos. So I played around with a few ideas in Articulate Engage. What I like about this approach is that you can make the information more interesting and relevant to the learner.
For example, what if each cell included a video of a subject matter explaining how the information impacts the organization in a real way? That could be impactful. It definitely would make the table more engaging and possibly help the learner connect it to the real world.
Add Interactive Multimedia Labels
The labeled graphics interaction lets you insert an image of the table. From there, you can add labels on top of the image. The labels can contain audio, images, and video or Flash files.
What I like about this approach is that I can add a label over each cell. It allows the learner to explore and click on only the area of interest. Combine that with an interactive Flash file (such as the one in my demo) and you have a pretty dynamic multimedia table.
Use a Guided Image with Multimedia
The guided image interaction is similar to the labeled graphic because you can add text, audio, and multimedia. However, it’s more of a linear presentation of the information. Personally, I like to give the learners more control so I’d probably go for the labeled graphic over the guided image.
You do have the option of having the arrows come from the top, bottom, or either side. While the guided tour isn’t as interactive as the labeled graphic, it does look nice and much easier to work with than a PowerPoint slide if you want to augment the information with some multimedia.
Let the Media Tour Progressively Reveal
This one’s similar to the progressive reveal in PowerPoint. However, instead of adding the rectangles and having them exit on click, you insert multiple images. When the learner advances, the table builds.
The media tour lets you add an image (or other media) and some audio. You also get the text are on the bottom. For this example, it’s probably not the option I’d select, but it is a different way to display the table in your course. And that’s the main thing.
Understand the tools you have and what they can do. Then look at all of your options and match the best option to what you hope to accomplish in your course. My favorites are the annotations (because of ease) and the labeled graphics (because I like to give the learners control).
Can you think of other ways to add table to your elearning courses? If so, add your ideas by clicking on the comments link.
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