According to recent estimates, the e-learning industry is expected to exceed $350 billion in revenue by 2026. If you want to claim your fair share of this vast and growing market, you’ll need to differentiate your company from the sea of competitors. However, traditional training practices tend to rely primarily on that old standard: PowerPoint (PPT). The growth of the e-learning industry means that learners both need and expect more sophisticated training experiences than what PPT can provide. This article presents the best practices for transforming PPT training courses into innovative and unforgettable learning experiences.
Why Convert from PowerPoint?
Even your best training materials probably need help satisfying the demands of today’s immense and growing market. Perhaps the first and most important step in preparing your content for the needs of clients today, tomorrow, and far into the future is to transform your great PPT training materials into even more effective e-learning content.
Ultimately, conversion is preferable to creating new content from scratch; when done right, it offers significant savings in both time and money. Established face-to-face training providers often have a big investment in PowerPoint-based presentations that can be leveraged in the transition to asynchronous e-learning. With a bit of creativity, you can transform your traditional PPT-based training content into e-learning courses that are engaging and effective, without letting the excellent content that you already have go to waste.
Passive versus Active Learning
In PPT-based training, the role of the facilitator is paramount. The instructor adds a narrative that provides direction and transforms the information on the slides into stories. They can engage the audience by asking questions, facilitating discussion, and responding to learners’ queries. This enables the live facilitator to tailor the learning experience to the unique learning context. Therefore, live, in-person, PPT-based instruction is a dynamic event that is shaped and guided by the learners’ reactions in real time.
In e-learning courses, however, there is no live facilitator to “drive” the learning experience. Without a facilitator’s mediation, traditional PPT-based training courses are stale, unengaging, and largely ineffective, hence the need for a different approach in asynchronous online courses. But that does not mean the story-driven and highly interactive nature of PPT cannot be translated into the e-learning environment. Indeed, when the conversion is made effectively, all the positive attributes of PPT can be amplified in e-learning courses. The dynamic and responsive approach to training that so often characterizes live, PPT-based, facilitator-led courses should and must be built into the e-learning experience, principally through the use of interactive exercises and activities.
Why Convert Passive PowerPoint to Active E-learning?
While facilitator-led PPT-based training may support the interaction between facilitators and learners, the latter often have little choice but to follow where the facilitator leads them. They rarely have the opportunity to direct their own learning, test their understanding of the material that they are studying, or apply the skills that they are developing.
That’s not great. In fact, ample evidence supports the superiority of active learning in regard to skills development, knowledge acquisition, content retention, and learner engagement and experience. This is where the conversion from passive PPT to active e-learning shines.
By converting PPT to e-learning courses, you invite and indeed, require the learner to take a leading role in their success. For instance, these courses enable learners to track their progress, test their knowledge, and pursue important learning milestones. While learners are charting their learning process, they are also inevitably identifying their own core strengths and areas in which they may face greater challenges.
In turn, this enables learners to choose content areas where they may need or want to focus more intently and areas where they can choose to take more time and care in order to ensure content mastery and successful course completion. When you’re taking online courses for purposes such as upskilling, having the reassurance that you have really learned your stuff can mean all the difference in the workplace.
One benefit of converting from PPT is that the course developer can embed slide progression restrictions into the e-course. With progression restrictions, you can require learners to click through all module slides and spend a specified minimum amount of time on each slide before moving on to the next. However, restrictions need to be added with care because they do not enable learners to progress at their own pace. If the course has engagement time requirements or if there is a concern that learners are just skipping over the material, an alternative solution is to add exercises like simple games or test-your-knowledge mini-quizzes to ensure that the learner spends sufficient time on the material. Most authoring tools are equipped with gamification and assessment templates that only require you to replace the question text with your own.
At the same time, with navigation functions embedded in most e-learning courses, learners can review content that they need additional help with or they can skip ahead to assessments for content that they’ve already mastered. This leads to a truly customized and personalized experience for each learner.
Having branched e-learning scenarios is another strategy that can be used to create customized and personalized experiences. First, they help replace a PPT presenter or instructor by enabling the learner to explore real-world scenarios and receive individualized feedback on their choices.
Second, these scenarios provide opportunities for learners to engage with and apply the content through interactive exercises and case studies to transform passive content into active knowledge.
Another issue with most PPT-based courses is that they are long, often consisting of dozens or even hundreds of slides. That can make for a stultifying experience for learners.
But when you convert from PPT to e-learning, you can tame that monstrous slide deck by using microlearning. Arrange your content into shorter, more digestible learning chunks, each beginning with a brief statement of learning objectives or a series of questions. To spark engagement, it’s important to place the learner in the right mindset and encourage their inquisitiveness. You can also use your learning objectives to determine the appropriate duration of each section.
Since an instructor will not be present, you will need to design courses so learners have opportunities to engage with the content. This can be through multimedia or interactive scenarios. You can also end each section of your course with a short quiz, to enable learners to test their understanding and retention of the lesson’s content.
Reinforce correct understanding with positive commentary, and direct users to “review slides” when they answer incorrectly. Chunking makes the learning process more modular and manageable, which helps learners navigate the course more efficiently and prevents them from becoming overwhelmed.
Harness the Power of Multimedia and Microlearning
Converting PPT into e-learning prevents the numbing monotony of the infamous slide deck. Today’s market has a host of powerful but highly user-friendly course authoring tools, such as iSpring, Articulate Storyline, and Adobe Captivate. These tools enable you to convert your PPT to SCORM. This gives you the power to track interaction data and user progress, add quizzes, and add slide progression restrictions. Keep in mind that the detail on a PPT slide, in combination with input from a presenter, may be too much information to convey in a single e-learning slide. What was one slide in a PPT may become several screens in an e-learning course.
Converting your PPT content also enables you to break down the presentation into digestible chunks that build on each other to create a narrative. For example, a slide presentation that might be used in one hour of live instruction gets broken down into four to six smaller pieces that each take between five and ten minutes to complete. This is ideal for learners who are studying on the go, using their mobile devices to complete their microlessons on their lunch break or while waiting to pick up the kids from school. Unlike PPT, e-learning courses need to be optimized for mobile devices to meet learners’ unique needs and preferences.
Best of all, course authoring tools are ideal for driving engagement and interest by incorporating audio, video, text, graphics, and interactive media. These make the courses more fun, memorable, and effective for learners with diverse learning styles. Auditory learners will value the sound clips, kinesthetic learners will thrive in learning by doing, and visual learners will appreciate the videos and graphics. One strategy is to add a short video of an instructor as a “talking head,” which can turn an otherwise simple slide deck into an engaging e-learning module. Such a dynamic and multimodal approach to e-learning is ideal for presenting content that truly meets learners’ individual needs.
Learners aren’t the only ones who can benefit from the conversion. As a content developer, you can also harness the power of e-learning analytics to monitor learners’ behaviors in each course. For instance, with good reporting tools, you can track course and module completion rates and the average time spent in each area. These tools can help you identify the most and least challenging elements of each course by embedding mini-quizzes and monitoring test scores or evaluating the average time spent in each module or on each element. This data can significantly improve your administration and maintenance of existing courses and your development of new courses, modules, and microlessons. In other words, unlike PPT, e-learning courses offer analytical and marketing functionalities that enable you to monitor content, as well as learner behavior and performance. They also provide the information needed to design, revise, scale, and market your courses based on evolving market demands and the dynamic needs of diverse learners.
PPT certainly has had its time and place in corporate learning. However, if you want online learning content that is second to none, you’ll need to do more than simply slap your PPT content onto an e-learning platform, no matter how great your learning materials may be. Instead, to provide the best possible content for your clients, you will want to harness the power of e-learning to provide a dynamic, interactive, multimodal, and data-driven learning experience that competitors simply cannot emulate or supersede.
Here at Firmwater, we don’t just sell an LMS for training providers. We partner with our clients, giving them the tools and insights they need to implement the best practices in e-learning course development, growth, and delivery. We care too much about our customers’ businesses to have them wade through forums and chatbots for help.
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