This guest blog entry was written by Articulate Community Manager David Anderson.
One of the ways I like to exercise my e-learning skills is by deconstructing and rebuilding creative and engaging e-learning courses. Each time I find something I like, I ask “How would I build that in PowerPoint and Presenter?” And then I try to build it.
For example, I found this interactive graphic the other day. It’s clean and simple, with many repeating elements. Something like this could easily be part of an e-learning course.
While it might appear difficult to replicate, it really isn’t that challenging to build. Basically, there’s a main slide that loads a separate slide for each of the 50 states.
Essentially, all of the slides are the same with just the information specific to the state changing. In fact, once you have the first slide built, it’s more about e-learning production than anything else.
And that’s why it’s a great project to rebuild using PowerPoint and Presenter ’09. By replicating the graphic, you’ll learn some production techniques and shortcuts.
Here’s what I came up with
Above, you can see the original. And below you can see what I created. As you can see, you get a comparable product using nothing more than PowerPoint and Presenter ’09. You didn’t lose anything in terms of content or functionality, and visually it’s identical. I just added the borders for emphasis.
This project helped me rethink how I approach some projects to consider the development and production efficiency. Testing out an idea, I rebuilt the example a couple times. And each time I found a few new ways to streamline my work.
Specifically, I learned three things:
- Never underestimate the value of slide masters. It took a few passes before I fully recognized just how much of this course was persistent and didn’t need updating on each slide.
- Leverage placeholder text. Only three text objects were changed on each slide. Rather than copying blocks of text to place on each slide, I could easily move static text to the slide master and use placeholder text for the slide-specific text.
- Save multiple objects as graphics. I built the Teacher:Student graphics in PowerPoint. All together, that came to around 50 objects per slide. Saving those as single .png files rather than keeping them as PowerPoint objects significantly reduced the number of objects on the slide, which reduced the publishing time!
You Must be Willing to Play
There are some great resources available, from books to blogs to classes, that will help you learn to design better courses. But you must be willing to invest your time and effort into playing.
Make it part of your personal learning strategy to regularly rebuild existing projects. They don’t all have to be e-learning either. There are some wonderful multimedia projects that leverage the same design and technical skills we use to develop e-learning.
I’ll write more about this in a future post. In the meantime, you can download the source files from this thread in the Community forums. I invite you to share your own tips and strategies for learning to design better courses.