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Easy Ways to Improve Your Elearning Course

04.18.2014

Maybe you already have elearning content in a PowerPoint presentation, and you don’t have the time to re-create the course from scratch. But, you want to improve the course and start moving toward better elearning content.

Can it be done?

Absolutely. I know it can be daunting to try to put a new face on an old course, but below are some easy ways to move beyond the bullet-point presentation we often find in PowerPoint content.

Add audio

Nothing moves your content out of the dark ages as quickly as narrating your course. This does not mean you read the slideshow aloud; but that you actually talk to the presentation – maybe like you would in a classroom environment. The bullet points should just be there to emphasize key points of your narration; if that isn’t the case, re-work the text. Below are a few recording tips that will make the experience easier.

Use a USB microphone. These microphones are relatively inexpensive and produce the best sound quality for course narration. Here is a good one for about $50.

Script your narration. If you aren’t completely comfortable presenting the material, write a short script. You don’t have to read the script in lock-step fashion, it gives you something to fall back on if you need it. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just a few sentences per slide to keep you on track.

Add some visual style

Elearning is a visual medium, so the look of your course should complement the subject of your course. You don’t have to go crazy here – but by effectively applying styling to your course you can engage the learners, provide motivation, and better communicate the material. The look of your course can provide a context for the learning – you’re setting the stage for the learners here.

You can easily add style to your course in several ways: fonts, images, or template styling. If you want more advanced tips on creating engaging elearning courses, join the Elearning Heroes community – it’s a great resource.

Fonts. Depending on the type of training course you’re creating, your choice of font can add to the character of the course. If you’re doing a software demonstration, for example, you may want to use a handwritten font with hand-drawn circles, lines, and boxes. The effect would be like you were writing on the screen – drawing attention to the areas that you’re discussing.

Here are some sources of free handwritten fonts for you to try.

And here is a good source for other types of free fonts.

Images. While clip-art may not be the most amazing source of images, there is a lot you can do with it.The images in your course should communicate with learners – giving them additional information about the context, the focus of the content, or adding emphasis. You can start by using clip-art that comes with PowerPoint, and make adjustments to the images to suit your needs. Here is a great post about using clip-art in elearning courses.

Template styling. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the best way to use PowerPoint for creating elearning courses is to create an elearning template. (Or you can just start with a blank slide and create your own.)

Your template can be very simple – have a look at Cathy Moore’s course, Dump the Drone– simple and effective white background with minimal styling, but with directed text that targets its audience perfectly.

Or you can create a more elaborate template, depending on the context of your course. Here is a resource of elearning templates for PowerPoint to help you get started.

Ask questions along the way

As learners are going through your course, take opportunities to ask a question here and there. This doesn’t have to be a trackable event in the LMS – it is just an opportunity to let learners reflect on what they have learned, or what they are about to learn. You can guide their thinking by providing a response to the question you ask – in the form of ‘Things to Consider’, or ‘Myth vs. Fact’ or ‘What You Need to Know’ – again, depending on the focus of your course.