The Rapid Elearning Blog

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Here are some answers to questions I get from blog readers. Many of the ideas for my blog posts come from these questions. However, sometimes there are questions that don’t warrant a full post, but may be of interest.

So today’s an FAQ post where we look at answers to a few common questions I’ve gotten recently.

How to Create an Animated Puzzle in PowerPoint

Apparently animated puzzles are the Justin Bieber of online training. They’re popular, but no one wants to admit liking them. I’ve gotten a lot of questions about them recently. So here are answers to help you build a puzzle-themed elearning module.

Where can I find that puzzle piece you used in your rapid elearning blog post?

Answer: The puzzle piece I used in the post on how to create an animated puzzle image should be easy to find by searching for “puzzle” from the clip art search in PowerPoint. However, you won’t find it on the Microsoft office online site. Not sure why, but that’s OK because it does show up if you look for it from the clip art search feature inside of PowerPoint.

Once you put it on the slide, you can ungroup it and break it into individual pieces.

How can I chnage my picture into an animated puzzle using PowerPoint

Answer: There are a few ways to convert the image into a puzzle using PowerPoint.

  • Use the shape fill in PowerPoint. Since the puzzle piece is a vector shape you can fill the piece with an image. That works great for single pieces but not for an entire puzzle image.
  • Do a progressive reveal by subtracting the image. Put the image in the background and then put all of the puzzle pieces on top of the image. Then fill them all so they are solid color. Remove the puzzle piece to reveal the image. That’s what I did in this tutorial on how to create an animated picture puzzle.
  • Fill the puzzle piece with the slide background. This technique gives you the most freedom and options. Make the slide background the image. Then add a solid shape on top to hide it. Fill the puzzle piece with the background image. It will pick up the background wherever it’s placed. Save the image so you now have custom puzzle pieces.

How do I create an animted puzzle

Answer: There are a couple of easy ways to create an animated puzzle. Do a progressive reveal where you subtract pieces that sit on top of the image. It will look like the puzzle pieces are being added.

The other option is to fill the puzzle piece with the slides background. Make the image your slide background and then fill the puzzle piece with the backgrounds. Then save the piece as an image. This second choice gives you the most freedom because each piece is a unique shape. At that point you can apply an animation to the piece.

Here is a tutorial that walks through the tips above.

Click here to watch the PowerPoint tutorial.

Animated GIFs for Online Training Courses


What do you think about animated .gifs

Answer: I don’t.

Should I use animated .gifs in my elearning courses

Answer: Truth be told, I’m not a fan of animated .gifs. I think they look kind of cheesy, especially most of the ones you find in the PowerPoint clip art. For the most part they serve little purpose other than having some decorative animation. So if you’re feeling nostalgic for the 1990s then use them. But otherwise, I say no.

With that said, animated .gifs are making a comeback. So there may be a way to work them into your content. They could work if you’re showing a series of steps or procedures like the demos below that show how to make pencils or ice cream sandwiches.

how to make pencils animated gif

how to make ice cream sandwich animated gif

In addition, people love optical illusions. If you distract them enough they may not even realize that they’re taking a compliance course.

optical illusion animated gif

Favorite PowerPoint Clip Art Style?

what is your favority clip art style

I’m not sure I have a favorite clip art style. But I do like the ones that let me do the most editing.

  • Style 647 is a good one. That’s how I made the image tags above.
  • Style 599 has a sleek b/w look that could come in handy.
  • Style 1285 has nice hand-drawn lines.
  • Style 629 has kind of a retro comic look.
  • Style 43 works if you get rid of the colors and just need heads.

The key thing when using clip art is to look at the lines and other elements within the image that you can use. For example, many of the clip art images aren’t usable out of the box. But when ungrouped, there may be pieces of the clip art that have value.

Those are answers to some common questions. If you have any of your own elearning questions, feel free to contact me and I’ll try to point you in the right direction.


Free E-Learning Resources

Want to learn more? Check out these articles and free resources in the community.

Here’s a great job board for e-learning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly e-learning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool e-learning examples to check out and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This e-learning 101 series and the free e-books will help.

12 responses to “More Tips on How to Build Online Training Courses”


Thanks for the tip on background images and the puzzle pieces. I noticed a weird thing. You do have to save the pieces out as saved images. If you try and short cut the process, that is copy and paste special as a png, the puzzle piece loses it’s background image. At least with my copy of Powerpoint.

Best Regards.
Joe Kirby

I just want to thank you for the excellent training you freely give through your Rapid E-Learning Blog. You teach me so thoroughly with the right combination of text, graphics, and demo. I’m always inspired to try and think of ways I can implement each good idea. This lesson on digital puzzle pieces was great!

@JS: thanks for the kind words. I’m glad the blog is helpful to you

@Joe: I tested it in PPT 2010 and it looks like it just picks up the shape but not the fill. It does remain transparent though. One reason I save out as a .PNG is to have a distinct graphic.

A fantastic post as always Tom. Do you know how we can get a list of Styles from clipart? I’ve done a (quick) search with no luck. Thanks again for your insights, looking forward to trying an animated puzzle in an upcoming course!

@Beck: you can look in an image’s properties. It will tell you what style it is. I don’t know of any list of PPT styles, but that would be kind of cool. Although there are thousands of styles. Sometimes I just type in a number and see what comes up.

May 28th, 2013

My favorite PPT style is 15. I’ve deconstructed and reconstructed both characters and backgrounds from that style to create countless online training scenarios for social caseworkers.

May 29th, 2013

A fantastic post
very usefull information for me

May 30th, 2013

There are some really helpful tips here, thanks Tom.

June 8th, 2013

Wow! it is really good article. Your tips in this article is very useful to rapid elearning, thank you to sharing this here

June 10th, 2013

Powerpoint can so often drown the viewer with text. Thank you for the the ideas to keep that from happening.

Very resourceful tips for ID boarding. Cool