The Learning Tech

PowerPoint Best Practices for Delivering Effective Online Training

March 01 2019 | (0) Comments

Microsoft PowerPoint is a quick and relatively easy tool for building eLearning presentations for online training that can easily be uploaded to a Learning Management System (LMS). But are PowerPoint courses really effective? They can be if you take a step back and consider them from a learner’s perspective.

Let’s consider what happens when you learn something new, like a new language. You usually start with some basic building blocks (common phrases, basic vocabulary, letters, and numbers). You won’t remember everything right away—but the next time you hear the language, you may recognize a few keywords. The more you study and practice, the more you’ll remember. This gradual learning process reflects how our brain filters and stores new information.

Information Processing Theory Image

So how does that apply to a PowerPoint course? In order to maximize long-term memory, a well-designed course should help learners identify and practice key information. With that in mind, here are some questions to ask yourself to improve your PowerPoint (or any eLearning) course.

  1. Is all of the content necessary? When you have the learner’s attention, it can be tempting to add as many details or tips as you can. But the human brain can only process seven (plus or minus two) items at a time (Miller’s Law). Define goals up front, and make sure that the course content is directly tied to them. Remove anything that is not critical to achieving your goals. Break longer content into multiple pages or interactions; if a course is very long, consider a micro-learning approach, job aids or even a follow-on course.
  2. Is the content well-organized? When learners review a course, they are often focused on one screen at a time. They need help connecting everything together. You can help by directing their attention at the beginning (here’s what you’re going to learn), in the middle (here’s how this relates to what we learned earlier), and at the end (here’s how everything ties together). Advance organizers and graphic menus are other great ways to organize and structure content.
  3. Is the information relevant? Adult learners are more likely to identify content as “important” if it seems relevant to them. Use language that is appropriate to your learners’ jobs or roles. You can even add real-life examples; anecdotes or scenarios; or familiar images and photographs.
  4. Are your screens balanced? Even after you’ve streamlined and structured the content, some of your screens might be text-heavy. This makes it difficult for learners to identify key points, and they may feel overwhelmed by the amount of content they need to review. Consider adding tables, headings, graphics or bulleted lists to organize content and increase white space. Move some content into pop-up text interactions to increase engagement and allow learners to build knowledge incrementally. Use bold as necessary to clearly identify key points.
  5. Is there an opportunity to practice? Practice is key to long-term retention. Consider adding reflection exercises or knowledge check questions. If you use an LMS, you may want to add homework assignments or on-the-job activities for learners to complete when they finish the course. You can also use another eLearning tool (such as Articulate Storyline) to build a separate interactive scenario, game or practice exercise that engages learners to apply the concepts they learned in your PowerPoint course.

If you’d like more information about these approaches, or if you’d like some help getting started, ePath Learning Pro Services team can help! We can work with you to evaluate your current training and find budget-friendly ways to help improve the learning experience.

Carrie Wiser | Learning Advocate | ePath Learning, Inc.

About the Author:  Carrie Wiser is a Learning Advocate who applies cognitive science, instructional theory and years of practical experience to design more effective courses. She is focused on helping learners remember key information, learn from their mistakes, and see training as a benefit rather than a chore. When she’s not demystifying content, she takes day trips, explores nature, tries to become a better gardener, and reads a wide variety of books.