Layers vs. Slides

Jul 03, 2014

I am curious on the benefits of using layers vs. slides.  When do you find a layer a better option than a new slide? and vice a versa?


3 Replies
JD  Maddox

I tend to use layers vs. slides when I am trying to keep the focus on the information at hand as opposed to feeling like "moving on." For example: If I have "four keys to better listening", and each one has specific information related to it, I will use buttons to switch layers containing each individual key's info. I will then put a little x or somthing to then hide the layers and return to the original slide and mark that button visited. You can also build in conditions that will prevent the learner from moving to the next slide before visiting each layer. This is just my personal opinion, but I like layers over slides to keep things clean on my end while building the interactive feel of the information. 

Greg Faust

That is an excellent question.

For my work, I try for a One Slide: One Concept relationship. Most slides are 20 seconds to 1 minute long; if a slide gets up to 2 minutes, or if there's enough of a jumble of images that I'm tempted to use layers, then that's a hint that maybe I should consider breaking it into sub-concepts on consecutive slides (Slide Advances Automatically is a wonderful thing in the right situation).

If I were ever tempted to require students to click a bunch of layer-based tabs to proceed, I would probably just break each "tab" into a separate slide and impose a linear progression between them. After all, if there's important information, I don't want to distract students from it by making them think about tabs (and if there isn't important information, then the content can be deleted). Also, I already have a tool that allows the student to navigate back and forth between concepts; it's the menu, and it's always an available tab on the left side of my player.

This isn't a hard and fast rule, though. I know my target audience, and I know my content. There are special cases where tabs make sense for me, and if I had different learners or content, I might even change my rule.

I will point out a technical curiosity of layers: They have their own timelines, separate from the base layer's timeline. Because of this, any timed event on a layer will be timed according to how long it's been since the layer appeared; this might not sync with any particular event on the base layer. For example, clicking to bring up a tab should use a layer, since events on the layer should be timed based on whenever the learner clicked the tab. Anything timed to the base layer, though, should be on the base layer.

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