PowerPoint slides are a common and popular basis for corporate training. Why not implement them directly in an eLearning course that is offered as revision or consolidation for a seminar? Here are a few tips on how to create an eLearning course from a PowerPoint presentation and how to optimally design your slides for this purpose.
1. Try it with your complete presentation first
What would be easier than just trying and uploading your presentation? Right, there is no easier way. Just upload your presentation in its current state to your Learning Management System and click through the single learning steps (previously: slides). What do you notice? What appears to be good, and what does not? Write down your thoughts and go through the slides in their native format again.
2. Condense your slides
Make it shorter! This guideline is (almost) never wrong, at least when it comes to content on slides. The text should be rather short and condensed so that the message can be memorized easily. You can move text from slides to notes in your PowerPoint presentation. This way it will not be „lost“. When converting the presentation to an eLearning course, notes can be converted as well and will be shown as text underneath the slide.
Just as when giving a talk, there should not be more than 6 lines of text on each slide. Each line in turn should comprise no more than 6 words. A heading on the slide is not mandatory as the learning step in which the slide will be shown can have a heading of its own.
3. Better illustrate your slides
Be aware of the fact that by converting the PowerPoint presentation, effects and animations will be lost. Neither will videos be played within the presentation. But no need to worry: videos will be implemented elsewhere via iframe or upload. And interactivity is taken care of by means of quizzes or educational games which you can create with the help of authoring tools.
Font size 30, maybe even 40, is regarded as suitable to improve the visibility of content on the slide. After all, you do not know by means of which device the eLearning course will be accessed. If the participant uses a tablet, for example, the eLearning content will be shown a bit compressed, i.e. narrower. With a mobile phone, this effect is even more extreme. This is solved by an eLearning system that uses a responsive design. Readability is improved and motivation for learning will be less hampered. But keep in mind that the converted slide itself will not be responsive! Just like a picture, its format is fixed. Hence, when accessing learning content via smartphone, the browser window is reduced in size (compared to the PC screen where the content was created) and the picture will be reduced in size likewise. Mobile users are used to this effect, but still: sufficient font size is indispensable.
Next issue: pictures. Pictures can enrich slides when they are well chosen. They should not distract though, but rather reinforce the content. No more than 1 picture per slide should be chosen. If said picture is a diagram or the like it should be alone on the slide whereas explanatory texts should be moved to notes. This way, texts will be converted to free texts in the eLearning course.
As soon as these optimizations are done, you can convert your presentation again (but do not forget the first try beforehand).
4. Support your slides
What’s missing? A voice! In a „real“ presentation you would have had a speaker. In eLearning, you can replace the missing talk by means of video and audio. Simply upload short audio and video files in addition to your PowerPoint slides. A good solution would be a voice-over, which you can record either with your mobile phone or more professionally and then, as an audio file, include it in the matching learning step.
In addition, you can invite participants to interact and ask questions. In comparison to a talk this can be seen as an advantage because in a talk, participants often do not have the courage to pose their questions, if simply not to interrupt the speaker. It is also useful to include one test question for each learning step in order to keep learners engaged. Pay attention to including suitable feedback!
The course, or rather the learning step now consists of the slide from your PowerPoint presentation, video, audio, the possibility to leave a comment, and test questions. A less exciting but nonetheless important element often slips the mind: the text itself.
5. Prepare your texts
The element with the least interactivity in an eLearning course is text. Nevertheless, they convey important explanations and information. At this point, your text might still consist of former notes from your PowerPoint presentation or simple bullet points. To now prepare and optimize the text completely you can use the WYSIWYG editor included in some eLearning software. Consider using sub-headings and accentuations to draw attention to the most important points. But do not overdo it: the text should remain readable!
In principle, slides can be prepared rather easily. The most helpful feature for this is probably the notes field within the PowerPoint presentation, i.e. moving texts from slides to notes. This way, a presentation that is converted to an eLearning course already contains the most important content: one slide from the PowerPoint presentation with accompanying text for each learning step. Further preparing and completing these with interactive elements such as audio, video, and quizzes quickly leads to a complete eLearning course. The best idea is to try it yourself!