Converting PowerPoint slides, your source material, into an online course is an obvious route to take for a budding online course author.
It is more than likely that you have created a few slide presentations in your career. Whether it be PowerPoint, Open Office, Keynote, Prezi, Slidedog or any of the many available slide presentation programs you probably have a wealth of potential source material to create an online course with Technology Training Courses.
Or do you?
What makes a good slide presentation doesn’t mean it makes a good online course.
A slide presentation is generally considered as a linear communications tool. Each slide contains a summary of the topic being presented and the presenter augments each slide by talking and encouraging discussion on that topic. So a presentation is a collection of elements that have been ordered to suit the presenter so that they can talk the audience through the content in more detail.
Remember that with an online course you, the presenter, are not available to the audience. There can be no discussion while each element of an online course is experienced. The course material is also linear as lesson follows lesson and the only break in the pattern is when a lesson branches off into a topic.
Imagine yourself in the presentation room, with the slide on screen and a puzzled audience. What will you say to get their attention and achieve clarity? Write down those words for your course. Imagine an awkward question someone might ask; write down your response. Would you use personal experiences? Include those. What questions might you ask to challenge their understanding and check they’re following? Put those in too.
What makes a good course?
Interaction is a major factor and something difficult to provide when you are not stood in front of the audience talking!
No one wants to scroll through page after page of text. Good online courses enhance learning by including video, interactive activities, podcasts, and other multimedia elements. To use multimedia successfully these elements need to have a solid purpose and must be done professionally to have the best effect. Watching a smartphone video of someone stumbling through a topic is probably worse than just reading the content as a long text document.
You have the student’s attention but you need to retain it throughout the course, lesson by lesson. Attention is a precondition for all learning. Long passages of text will not hold attention and should be broken up by the other resources – video, audio, quizzes, illustrations etc. Each time the mode changes, our attention increases in response.
The slide with 5 bullet points, unsupported by discussion & expansion, poses the different risk of overload: too much information is being offered in a short space.
Providing additional ways to learn more is also another good step to have. Supplemental learning opportunities, when directed at key points, ensures interest is maintained.
Good online courses will offer something ‘extra’. As well as using multimedia and quizzes to stimulate interaction a good course author will try to think outside of the traditional box. Your subject may be very technical, it may be very dry but there is no reason why you can’t inject some humour, some visual stimuli to promote thought.
Converting PowerPoint Slides
Or indeed, any slide presentation.
Tell your students what they need to learn.
A slide presentation doesn’t contain learning objectives; it lists the topics that are presented. You need to set up proper learning objectives that describe what your students will be able to do after taking the course. This eliminates ambiguity and provides a good overview of the course.
It is quite likely that your slide presentation does have a logical sequence to it – but remember that when you are presenting you are able to jump back and forth, so your slides may not necessarily be in the best sequence for an online course.
So it is essential to ensure that your online course flows. Therefore make sure your course content is divided into logical lessons and when using topics make sure they are relevant to that lesson as this produces more effective learning.
You must also check that there is no missing information in the content. This is important because, as a presenter, it is common to expand and augment the points in the slide presentation by quoting examples, pointing to specific instances and adding personal experiences. This type of information needs to be somehow included in your online course material.
A slide presentation goes hand in hand with a slide presenter but an online course does not have the benefit of a presenter. The course content has to stand up by itself and enthrall!
Slide presentations are generally used as a tool to present information, not to educate, per se. In the majority of situations the presenter will enhance the information found on the slide; he will cite examples, offer first-hand experiences and expand the level of detail and, as such, a good presentation is more often than not gauged by the skills and experience of the presenter.
To overcome the lack of a presenter you need to create effective strategies that include interaction. Interactions such as click on tabs, slideshows, and hotspots, video and audio to involve your students in the learning process.
Use Multimedia - Video
Video is a very effective instructional tool. Good videos capture the imagination of your students but bad video can have a very negative effect.
Take advice before recording your own but don’t let that put you off.
Many types of courses can be improved by simple screen recording (using your computer to record a sequence of events) and using simple handheld video to describe a subject can be equally effective but for the more complex tasks, seek expert advice.
Use Assessment - Quizzes
This is where your online course scores well. A slide presentation can never include a quality assessment process. The presenter may shout out a few questions to gauge the level of comprehension so far.
An online course has the ability to go into depth and ask a variety of questions in a variety of styles. Better still the answers can be measured.
Every course has the option to include quizzes at any stage and we advise that every course should include at least one quiz as this promotes effective learning and provides student feedback, helps measure comprehension levels and reinforces learning.