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9 Handy Tips for Effective E-Learning Slideshows

Posted June 27, 2011 at 09:06 pm

1094329_72034532.jpgIn the past we have spent time talking about how the fatal flaw of many E-Learning PowerPoints is found not with the audience, but with the presentation itself.  They are boring!  And boredom my dear friends is NOT an effective teaching technique!

So today we are going to take things one step further.  Instead of looking at what makes PowerPoint bad, we are going to spend our time learning about what we can do to make it good.  And we are going to do that by taking a closer look at Gange’s Nine Steps of Instructional Design.

Never heard of it?  You’ll love it.  See, Gange has done a good bit of the work for us and has laid out a pretty great plan when it comes to building an effective presentation.   His steps are concise, they are well thought out and they create an ideal foundation for us to build from when creating our own E-Learning initiatives.  So without further ado, let’s go see what Gange has to say about building that perfect E-Learning presentation!

673581_87480321.jpg1.   Gain Attention

The first step to crafting an effective slideshow is to grab the attention of your audience.  They must be intrigued.  They must be riveted.  And you must draw their interest to the point where they are actively waiting to hear what you’ll say next.

Think about it this way.  When you are hanging back, watching your favorite TV show and the episode ends, they always show a few seconds of the next show to get you excited.  It’s this kind of teaser that you want to adopt, and here are a few ways that you can do just that:

  • Demo an activity
  • Storytelling
  • Offer a problem
  • Illustrate how not to do something

These types of activities are known as “interest devices”.  You use them to draw in your audience and get them involved in the presentation as a whole.  When you have their interest, you also have their attention, and when you have their attention you have the power to teach them something.

2.   Inform Learner of Objective

Once you have their attention, now its time to get to the meat of the issue.  You want to clearly illustrate the objective of today’s presentation.  This is the whole point per say of the interest device you just employed and it also allows your participants to begin organizing their thoughts around the presentation they are about to view.  You’ve got their attention, now it’s time to use it.

One common way to do this, and to organize your presentation as a whole is an old tip that we picked up from public speakers ages ago.   Are you ready for this?  First, you tell them what you are going to tell them.  Next, you tell them.  Finally, you tell them what you told them!

The idea behind this tip is to stay on target.  Don’t throw out some random curve ball half way through the presentation that will confuse your audience and dilute the message you are trying to convey.  Confuse them……and you’ve lost them!

3.   Stimulate Recall of Prior Knowledge

Or….don’t spend all your time covering old ground.  If your audience is familiar with a concept, event or idea, remind them of it briefly then move on.  This allows you to build on prior skills or knowledge bases without beating that particular concept into the ground!  Again, going over and over something that you are already comfortable with is not a great way to engage your audience or to create that effective slideshow you are aiming for.

4.   Present the Material

As you are building the “meat” of your presentation, try to find the natural flow of the material.  You want the ideas to build upon one another in such a way that they make sense to your participants and each step forward is both logical and well thought out.  This idea is based on several well known learning models and the point here is to avoid memory overload.  You present each step in small segments, link the segments in the most natural order and then present the material.

5.   Provide Guidance for Learning

Now, I’m not talking about telling your participants what the slides say.

We’ve already talked about how I feel about sitting back and just reading slides to the people around you!

No, I’m talking about offering your audience actual instructions on how they can learn.  Give them ideas about where they can look to find more information about the topic at hand, and offer opportunities for them to interact with both you and the other participants.  Also, whenever possible, try to mix different forms of media into your presentation to help break up the material and offer different perspectives.  This increases the rate of learning because it cuts through the monotony of a standard presentation and keeps your audience from becoming frustrated and tuning out the issue altogether.

6.  Elicit Performance

Practice…PracticePractice.  Get hands on and fun by engaging your audience and having them interact with their newly learned skill or knowledge.   When you get involved you pull from the information you have just learned and you help to move that information from short term to long term memory.  Since retention is the name of the game, long term is the end game and it is the goal we are all shooting for,

7.   Provide Feedback

Another way to put this is strive for interaction.  Sure, you can do the same old test or quiz that has been done for a thousand years, but does that really show any level of innovation on your part?  I’m thinking not!  So, instead of thinking “test” let’s think “analyze.”  As in let’s check in and interact with our participants in such a way as to show ourselves what they have learned and which areas are still gray and fuzzy.

Also, don’t forget about praise!  Telling someone that you are impressed with them, that you appreciate their participation or even just thanking them for their feedback can go a long way towards engaging them into anything else that you need to say.

8.   Assess Performance

To know where you need to go, you have to know how far you have come.  This goes back to the whole “analyze” thing.  Now is the time to check in with your participants and find out if your lessons are sinking in.  If so?  Awesome, move on.  If not, go back and try to find out what went wrong.  If you are consistently getting poor retention levels then consider that its the presentation that is the problem rather than the audience.

9. Enhance Retention and Transfer

As you are winding down, you need to tell your group what they should expect next.  Let them know about any problems you might perceive and then give them options as to where they can go to find additional information on the topic at hand.  In short, don’t abandon them.  Give them ideas about how to take this information further as well as where they can go if they need a refresher.

Now, these nine steps are just the beginning.  True innovation is up to you.  But they are a tool.  A great one that you can use to take your PowerPoint presentations up a notch or two and maybe, just maybe, engage your participants along the way.  Let’s see what you can do with that challenge!

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The Weblearning Learning Management System is a powerful, budget-friendly, easy-to-use Online E-Learning System for authoring, managing, and tracking online learning presentations and tests. To try it FREE,  go to the Weblearning E-Learning System Sign-up Form.

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