Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Jane Bozarth: Better than Bullet Points

Jane Bozarth: Better than Bullet Points: Creating Engaging eLearning with PowerPoint.

Session hosted by Training Magazine.

Effective design using PPT as a tool.

Not PPT 101. But will talk about how to make instruction more engaging, interactive and interesting.

Why PowerPoint?

We have it. It’s cheap. It’s idiot proof. Pretty universal. Easy to deal with.

Many tools out there that still have to start with ppt

Use it as a storyboarding tool, prototyping.

Can do an awful lot with PPT.

Most of Jane’s examples – from people with lower budgets – not the glitzy example (we need to make learning engaging, not pretty).

Creating asynchronous instruction.

Frustration with eLearning:

Becomes dumping ground for slides, text, content

All the fun stuff kept for the classroom.

Info dumps are not instruction!

How BAD can e-learning be?

73 slides of text. Inexplicable clip art. Not elearning, but ereading.

“etorture” (said by someone in the chatroom!)

Pages and pages of scrolling text. Pretty much just a policy manual.

Even when you make programs like that mandatory, still only have a 5% completion rate.

Better than Bullet Points

  • Develop a treatment
  • Apply Richard Mayer’s SOI model
  • Choose graphics with soul, interactions with meaning, and animations that teach

Taking an existing classroom course – think about TRANSFORMING it, not converting it.

1. Select a Treatment

Don’t just present lots of data.

put it into context (create a story around it – example: A. Platura Art Detective to each about perspective).

Use hyperlinks to answer questions.

It’s very easy to load content on slides – but it takes more creativity to move learner to actual understanding!

Use scenarios – apply what you know to make a decision..Ask the learner to take info that’s not clearcut and apply it using a question (in PPT – picture of a farmer and 3 images of “experts” to ask for advice. Whose advice do you follow?)

SMES get married to the content and often lose sight of the bigger picture.

Present the info – not as a text dump – but rather “what happens in the real world?”


You decide:

  • Read the complaint
  • Review the evidence (this links off to different slides – email evidence, etc.)
  • Decide who wins the case

When you see something you like, try to do it in PowerPoint.

Idea Kickstarters

Talk to others outside of your area of expertise

Use the Goofus and Galant approach – compare and contrast the good example vs. the bad example

2. Apply Mayer’s SOI Model

Where projects derail. Have a good idea, but want to put too much stuff into it.

Richard Mayer – research on multimedia learning.

“Select, organize and integrate”

  • Select important information
  • Organize it into meaningul wholes
  • Integrate it with real world problems


Help the learner understand what they’re going to do. Filter info for them.

Use good headings.


  • outlines
  • headings
  • graphics
  • structure text (compare/contrast, cause/effect, classification order/sequence)


  • illustrations with captions
  • animation with narration
  • worked-out examples
  • elaborative questions

Take all of the info and make better sense of it for the learner.

“Effective design is done when there’s nothing left to take out.” [not that you’ve found a way to put more stuff in.]

Intregrate text with graphics – don’t have a picture on one side and the list of items to look at on another side of page. Might look neater, but too much cognitive load. Put the labels right on the picture.

Taking information and applying it to a real problem

How do we keep from overloading learners?

  • chunks
  • keep it short
  • get rid of extraneous information
  • don’t assume learners are idiots – they don’t need everything spelled out to them.
  • make it relevant to the job and not just information

3. Choose Graphics with Soul, animations that teach, interactions with meaning.

Finding graphics: flickr, istockphoto, etc.

Useful feedback in an online quiz

Use feedback to help the learner learn.

Other tips:

Insert photos instead of cutting and pasting them – smaller file sizes!

Bad elearning can be horrible no matter what tool you use. It’s about design, not software!

Less is more.

PPT Blunders when designing eLearning:

  • too much text
  • bad graphics
  • flying text

My review: Jane is a fabulous presenter. Very fluid delivery. Lots of great examples. Time well spent.


For those of you who missed the session, a recording and handouts are available (you'll have to register):


Jane has posted some links following the webinar which you can find here (you'll have to register):



Jason Willensky said...

Sorry I missed it. Thanks for the excellent recap!

Jane Bozarth said...

WOW. When you say it, I sound articluate and concise...

We had lots, and lots of people in this session (triple digits, none beginning with 1). Even with moderator helping I missed so much of the chat, and I hate that. Hope folks with any unanswered questions/comments find me via the group or Twitter.

Thanks for this recap.


Cammy Bean said...

Jane, you were fabulous. And you sounded even better than I make you sound really. The comments did fly by fast, but you nicely picked up on trends.