April 21, 2014

“ . . . Funny enough, it seems like most elearning courses can be traced back to PowerPoint in some capacity. Heck, most of them allow you to import PowerPoint. But does using PowerPoint as the base for our learning pigeon-hole us into thinking about learning from a PowerPoint perspective? You know what I mean: Linear. Bullet points. Display mode. Slides. Clipart.

It just seems … lacking.

This industry seems poised for some major disruption. Someone who can come in and buck the status quo, to make instructional designers forget about PowerPoint for a second and focus on learning that doesn’t live by the same PowerPoint rules. Learning is dynamic and flexible – so should be the tools and thought processes we have when creating it. . . . “

– – – Justin Ferriman, LearnDash (excerpt)

At the present time, PowerPoint is the major enemy of e-Learning. It has turned off countless thousands of individuals who would otherwise be motivated by the potential of the e-Learning medium. In short, PowerPoint has done more harm to learning than most of us can possibly imagine.


Most managers, VPs and HR executives, charged with making training purchase decisions for their organization, have very little real understanding of the learning process. They concentrate on the technology capabilities of digital media and subject matter titles.

(“If it plays on the Internet, it works.” —- AND —- “If the title says it covers a subject, it does!”)

How foolish!

Information conveyance has both a purpose and means for achieving results. So do training and education! And guess what? Their purposes and means are very different.

Information is there for the taking. Either you choose to acquire it — or, you don’t.

We acquire short-term knowledge because it’s there. Yet, we forget newspaper articles quickly and retain little of a PowerPoint outline days after it has been presented.

Effective training, on the other hand, relies on such factors as stimulation, simulation and self-interest —- all aimed at increased skills acquisition. And, e-Learning (in its intended sense) should link us to the content being presented. It should have relevance to our own lives and the skills that we want to acquire. It should speak to us in our own learning culture (today, that culture is television- and gaming-based). It should come to us in short chunks in order to allow us to ponder, chew and swallow discreet objectives. It should present us with simulations, so that we can try it out with our own hands. In short, it should live and breathe in a world that touches us directly.

PowerPoint, on the other hand, is cold, sterile and passive. We think that just because we can network a PowerPoint presentation or an adapted written procedure, we’re doing something important. And, in a way, we are.

We’re putting our audience to sleep!

We’re bombarding them with words they’ll never remember and packaging those words in presentations that are foreign to our target-audience’s own learning culture. Even worse, we’re turning them against the potential of the most promising learning tool that exists today — e-Learning! (And that is why nearly 70% of trainees never finish those converted PowerPoint courses.)

The best in e-Learning can empower students and trainees. It can open their eyes to possibility; it can increase their capabilities; and it can free them to make better choices.

Converted PowerPoint presentations and written procedures can do none of that!

More on Wednesday – – – – –

— Bill Walton, Founder of ITC Learning