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Is PowerPoint the most widely used tool for eLearning development? Should it be?


It seems that everywhere I go in the eLearning world I run into PowerPoint. Most of the new authoring tools either use PPT as their backbone or offer the ability to import slides. Interface creation, navigation buttons, LMS tracking, and testing abilities are then typically added to the PPT functionality.

I “grew-up” in eLearning world using Director/Authorware and then moving into Flash/HTML (PPT was “off-limits”). In the past few years I’ve started using Articulate and Captivate to do the heavy lifting and using Flash more for specific parts of the overall course. Using these new tools meant that I had to start using PPT.

At first I was very anti-PPT, however I have changed my tune a bit in the past few years. I have come to appreciate that with some good thought and instructional design you can use most any tool to a decent level of effectiveness. I’ve seen terrible Flash and Lectora courses even thought they were created in amazing (expensive) tools. Then on the flip-side, I’ve seen some very creative content built with free tools.

Seems clich© but maybe it’s not about the tool. Good instructional design skills can be applied anywhere.

Here are a few reasons why PPT seems to be so widely used in eLearning:

1. Classroom training is often converted to an online format. Every classroom course has a PPT and it’s usually the first thing that someone thinks about when they want to put the course online. Unfortunately too often the PPT is simply thrown online without having truly turned it into effective eLearning.

2. Everyone has PPT. It’s probably already on every training person’s computer.

3. Everyone knows how to use it (and if they don’t it’s pretty easy to learn.)

4. You can quickly create content and there are tons of layouts, backgrounds, and color themes.

5. And last but not least, Microsoft already owns the world so why not conform?

What do you think? What has been your experience with PPT as a development tool? What is it missing? Do you think Microsoft will add features and turn it into a more robust eLearning development tool? Good article from Rapid eL Blog.

Checkout these eLearning PowerPoint templates. (40+ themes, 75+ layouts)

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