Reflections of a Middle-Aged Intern: The Puzzling Popularity of PowerPoint

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During my time in the instructional design program at UC-Denver, I’ve found that many of the instructors discourage students from using Microsoft PowerPoint in their eLearning design and development. To be frank, they think PowerPoint is inferior to such authoring tools such as Articulate Storyline or Adobe Captivate. During my internship at ViaSat, we used Storyline to create technical training courses covering radio frequency principals and satellite communication. It’s a very effective and user-friendly tool. Before we could create the modules in Storyline, however, we had to verify our information and visual elements with the subject-matter experts (SMEs). As it turned out, the most widely-available application across all departments that could present a content-rich project was, in fact, Microsoft PowerPoint.

Even though PowerPoint doesn’t offer the same interactive possibilities as Storyline or Captivate, it’s still one of the most popular applications in the business world. This is not surprising considering that Microsoft Office 365 has become the most widely used enterprise cloud service.  At ViaSat, we came to realize that when working with SMEs from other departments, it’s important to get their feedback in a context they could easily access on their computers or on a conference room screen. Also, it was relatively easy for us to import a PowerPoint presentation into Storyline and make adjustments.

I have Adobe Captivate on my home iMac. It offers a lot of interactive features to engage learners. Still, I know that if I am going to work for an organization that relies on Office 365, I’ll have to plan on creating a “rough draft” version of an eLearning module in PowerPoint first, despite it’s limitations. Oddly enough, I just realized I have an outdated version of Microsoft Office (2008 for Mac!) on my home computer. Time to upgrade I guess!

 

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