Conversion process - a little overwhelmed!

Feb 25, 2011

I am struggling with my eLearning presentations.  I am converting roughly 12 presentations that are heavy information and bullet format into learner focused scenario based presentations.  I am focusing from the perspective of the learner or their customer and trying to figure out the best scenario for the learner.  I spend the time mind mapping out the scenarios and work in only the necessary information.  Although, I also get caught up with the look and feel of the layout.  Is it too busy, or is that catchy and engaging?  It's quite a challenge to convert the material and engage the learner all in one swoosh!  I find when I relax and have fun, I come up with great stuff, but deadlines and pressure are not fun.

Anyone have some advice for navigating through the conversion process?

8 Replies
Jeanette Brooks

Hi Katie Sounds like you are living out what Tom calls "The Rapid E-Learning  Story." Meaning that sometimes it's not always possible to go from 0 to 100mph in the first go-round... so a lot of designers focus first on just converting the content, then on making it look nicer, and then on making it more interactive & engaging. I'm not sure what your deadlines are, but certainly it would be hard to accomplish all three of those goals for all 12 courses in a very short amount of time!

Can you work with your SMEs to isolate maybe a few key learning objectives that could become the basis for an engaging exercise or interactivity (rather than trying to make the entire course immersive & interactive)? If you nail the top couple critical skills that learners need to know & practice, that would help you know better how to devote your energy & time during course development. And for some learning objectives, maybe all the learner needs is information, and that's okay. Depending on the content, maybe some of the material could be transformed into an interactive job aid, such as an FAQ or glossary or Tabs interaction, rather than a scenario-based course.

For some quick tips on reducing bullet-points, check out this blog post.

You also asked about visual design... are you able to reuse the same visual design and theme across all the presentations? Maybe you could work up a couple of prototype layouts and then work with your SMEs to choose one. If you're looking for great tips on how to develop a visual design, David's got a great tutorial on that:

Gerry Wasiluk

To tie into what Jeanette said, I'm currently working on a confidential course for all supervisors and managers in our company. And my hands are tied in terms of what I can add or subtract.  The content has been approved by Legal and HR and I can't change a word without a big review.  It also has to look "very corporate."  I was only able to add a slide here and there to break up sections and to add course directions.

So I've done a lot of the things that Jeanette suggested and referred to.  I've tried to make 50+ slides of endless bullet points into something visually interesting.  So (appropriate) creative use of SmartArt, adding a lot of graphics for bullets, redesigning the orientation of the some of the bulleted material from vertical to horizontal, etc., are some of the things I am doing.

It's fun to do but also a big challenge and it does take longer to produce.

I only need to be careful not to dazzle folks with too much of that, so a occasional "plain slide" is used to give the learner a break.

I can't tell a story but I can hint at one.  At various key points, I use the same two characters in the course--almost like they were the hosts or guides for the course.  By repeating them in various poses, I can suggest a connectedness.

Only hope it works . . .  

Sean Speake

In order to make a course I recently worked on more visually engaging (and to reduce bullet overload), we built SmartArt boxes for the introductory slides to put the content in (the what, why and how)... still the same material, but not a bullet to be seen.

For some of the other slides, we placed an image over the information that fades out after 2 seconds, roughly the time it takes the narrator to introduce the slide. Then the slide title fades in a half second later, followed in another half second by the slide content and bullets.

Not ideal, but certainly goes toward reducing the feeling of slide after slide of bullet lists.


Randy Borum

Jeanette, as usual, offers some wise counsel and suggests some interesting resources.  I think I learn something new every time I read one of her posts.  

So - I have no epiphany here, but to highlight one element of your question - I suspect that unless you have 50+ scenarios under your belt already that converting 12 lengthy, dense courses from bullet points to scenarios under time duress is simply not a fair and realistic demand to make on yourself.  

Granted I may be dimmer than the average bulb (at least among those on this forum), but it takes time to learn the process of how to build an effective scenario.  Then it takes time to learn how to adapt and apply it to different learning objectives.  And so on.  You understandably care about the aesthetics  - and you find it the visual stuff interesting - so it can be a recipe for getting lost.  My point is just to say that it might be useful to consider revising your initial goal of  "converting roughly 12 presentations that are heavy information and bullet format into learner focused scenario based presentations."  

Following Tom and Jeanette's advice, maybe it would seem a bit less overwhelming to convert the presentation into an electronically viewable format that has some places that are kind of interesting or fun to look at and that are interspersed with a couple of brief "learning check" self quizzes.  Use what you build in each course in subsequent courses  - maybe changing color, shape or specific images -  and you will have continuity and variety ... and you will steepen your learning curve.

And perhaps a nice Merlot?

Katie Weinmann

These suggestions are all a lot more realistic.  Thanks for taking the time to respond.  I attended the 2 day Articulate training session and have spent days reading the blogs and forums so knowing the potential of each course drives me to want to develop them further.  Randy, you make a great point though about the learning curve and adding a little more to each presentation.  As Tom says in his blog, I can be the hero with each new development.

 And, Randy - the merlot sounds like a great idea - during work hours right?  I'm sure my boss won't mind if I say it's all for the goal of better training! 

Thanks everyone!

Randy Borum

Katie - Just a quick follow up.  I don't know if you've visited this thread on eLearning Development, but Jeanette pointed to a study of time and costs for 1 hour of eLearning.  

The most BASIC level is Level 1:  Contentpages, text, graphics, perhaps simple audio, perhaps simple video, testquestions. NOTE: PowerPoint-to-eLearning often falls into this category.Basically pages with assessment.

The low end estimate was 49 development hours for each eLearning hour.  The average was 79 development hours.  So assuming that each of the 12 courses is only an hour long, that can still add up with a low end estimate to 600 hours of effort.  That's not meant to be discouraging but with your knowledge of "the possible" and your desire to achieve it - maybe you can use it it to cut yourself a break bask in the glory of what you ARE able to accomplish.

Natalia Mueller


Given your situation, I have 2 suggestions for you. If you haven't seen it already, view Dump the Drone. It's all about converting text/information heavy presentations into something more visually appealing. It's full of examples and great ideas.

The other suggestion, is to use Engage interactions when you can. We have pretty much all experienced having our hands tied with content requirements and time constraints. While Engage interactions can be used in really creative ways, the straight forward approach can be a huge time saver and really bump up the visual quality of your course (even when you're just using them as a short cut). Does one process have several steps or pieces? Try the Process interaction. Need to talk about different fields on a screen? Use a labeled graphic.  A bulleted list can easily be converted into a Tab interaction. I also like to use those for quick knowledge checks. 

There are tutorials available for all of those. I can look them up if you need help with any of them. Just holla

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