Why Powerpoint?

Oct 18, 2011

I'm new to the e-Learning game, so I have a pretty baseline question. Why do so many people create in powerpoint and then roundtrip to another program like Articulate or Captivate? Why not just create from scratch in the program and skip the extra step? I feel like I'm missing something BIG!

Thanks for your help,


18 Replies
Kristen Hull

Captivate doesn't require you to build a PowerPoint presentation first (but you can).  For instance, from the Create New list in Captivate, you could make screen recordings (like, if you are creating a how-to for a software application) and then edit the recording (add audio, buttons, hints, quizzes, etc) within Captivate. 

Linda Forster

Hi Jennifer,

Welcome to the group! Power point has been around a long time and I think part of what you speak about is people's comfort levels with the software.

The other part I think is that not everyone is good at developing graphics and images. The software for createing those is expensive and you have to know how to work them.  The image edting and creating side of captivate has not really existed and as Justin said, articulate is an add on to PPT.

So for some people it's easier to make the graphics and lay the course out in PPT then import and publish it. As you work more with the software's I am sure you will find your groove.


Sammy Hwang

You hit the big question, Jennifer

Why-type of question is always a good one, and I used to have the same question before.

There are several ways of authoring e-learning program. One of them and easiest way of doing is to use e-learning authoring software. Articulate, Captivate, and Lectora are the three most popular software in the current market as far as I know. For the detailed info, visit Dr.Tony Karrer' blog. You will hear his name soon.

You can start from the scratch, too. And the current best practice is to use Flash with XML. Why it is best practice? Because you can separate your content from your design. It takes time to realize what you can do with these technology, though. If you are interested in this way, visit Thomas Toth's web site. http://www.thomastalkstech.com/blog1.php

Some people who need to consider accessibility issue, they prefer to create a web site for their elearning course with HTML, CSS, and Javascript. Or you can use blog or wiki type of tools such as wordpress or wikispaces etc.. Try to read this article when you have time. http://pipwerks.com/2009/10/21/best-practices-in-e-learning/

It sounds quite a lot, but you will get used to it as time goes by. Good luck.

Gina Hoekstra

I use PowerPoint to build out the design of my course because Captivate doesn't have image editing software. I set the "look" up in PowerPoint and get it where I want it and then as I have saved the images for the course I created in PowerPoint  in a named asset folder for the course, I simply set it back up in Captivate. It really doesn't duplicate too much work, because if I tried to start from scratch in Captivate it would just take way too long do.

Building it in PowerPoint seems to make the course building in Captivate so much quicker. I don't have Articulate, so I use Captivate to do all the animations in the course (branching,  button interactions, rollovers etc..) but as others have said if you have Articulate, this is all done within PowerPoint as an add on and simply published as an Articulate file, so you are not duplicating at all. 

From what I gather, many people like Captivate for doing "scenarios" when you need to record steps through a process and the ones designing courses seem to sway toward Articulate. I use Captivate simply because that is all I have. I am hoping to get Articulate eventually, but Captivate does what I need it to and I know how to use it, so I'm not complaining!

Jennifer Bartels

Thanks Gina, I'm in the exact same boat! Currently I use Captivate only, and it's primarily for soft skills training - New Employee Orientations, etc. I'm very interested in Articulate, and the price is keeping my department from committing.

Does Articulate give a more polished look? Right now my Captivate projects are fairly stagnant. I loved the motion path videos that were posted in other forums --> It looks like flash, or animation, but it's as easy as changing around some graphics. My concern is that I'd have to make those graphics on my own (desk, computer, characters), unless others are using them from other sources?

Clint Mullins


I am fairly new to Articulate and Captivate, so I had the same questions not too long ago.  I use Captivate for creating software simulations (learners are clicking and typing like they are in the actual application) and video demos, and I use Articulate for everything else.  In my world, I'm using Articulate about 70% of the time and Captivate the other 30%.

Articulate, in my opinion is much more user friendly, and the learning curve was was much shorter than Captivate.  From a support standpoint, there is no comparison.  The Articulate team and resources are second to none, and everyone knows how difficult it can be with Adobe sometimes.

Engage and Quiz Maker are two Articluate apps that are worth the upgrade to the basic versions.  Many of the animations and slick graphics are already there and ready to use - quick and easy.  I don't know flash at all, but my presentations look like I do.

Bottom line, the cost is so worth it.  I haven't purchased something where I've seen such a huge ROI in a long time.

Hope this helps.


Jennifer Bartels

Thanks, that's really helpful!

For those using PowerPoint first, how do you create audio that fits your timing? I'm testing out creating everything in PPT, then uploading onto Captivate. I like the interface of PPT better, but I can't seem to make timing and things like that work. It's only a soft skills training, but I'd like the text to go with my audio that's pre-recorded. Furthermore, it seems to only upload my PPT as a movie, not as layers. Is this normal? Is this how Articulate works? Sorry if these are dumb questions!

Kristen Hull

This doesn't answer your questions really, but regarding audio...I record my audio through Audacity which you can download for free.  Then I upload the audio files to Captivate.  I found the sound quality to be better in Audacity.  It's easy to time it with the buttons, images, animations, etc within Captivate, but I've never timed it with PPT animations.

Gina Hoekstra

I do all my audio recordings in Captivate (mostly per slide so that I can set it to start at .1 seconds which is a trick I learned if you want to use the preloader function for larger files - this cuts down on the load time for your users because if all audio starts at the slide opening during publishing it creates one big file and supposedly Captivate requires all audio to be loaded 100% before the file will play but if you set the narration to start at .1 seconds or later,  you can beat that requirement).

 I know a lot of people that I have read on blogs use fancy programs and even have expensive microphones, but honestly as long as there is not much noise around my office that day (or if I work from home), I can get perfectly good recordings using the Captivate program with my $20 mic from Target and the clips are super easy to edit and manipulate.

My steps are:

1. storyboard (if I need one)

2. Powerpoint layout with image creation and design

3. Captivate set up from using the template created in PowerPoint

4. Create the Advanced Actions (if necessary) in Captivate

5. Record all the audio narration in Captivate to each slide or object (or both in some cases)

6. Set all the timing in Captivate to match the narration

7. Publish & upload to LMS

Hope that helps!


Gina Hoekstra

Oh and my Captivate files are not stagnant at all...it took me some time to learn the tricks to make them nice and "flashy" but I feel that I have done what many people using Articulate have created with just as much success. I don't know Flash programming so some of my animations are not so fluid, but the point gets across and my scenarios can be fun!

I learned all my tricks from places like here, other blogs and through Linked in Groups! I have only been doing this now for about 8 months.

As far as image editing goes, if you have PowerPoint 2010, then it is easy. Get some good clipart with people in it from the clipart gallery and use the remove background function, then you can add shadows or whatever..That is what I do.

I want to get Articulate too, so I downloaded the 30 day trial and am trying to think of a nice little course I can put together with it so I can see if I can do the same things with it that I have done in Captivate.

julie mathews

Hi.  I have to add that I'm pretty dissolutioned with the combo of PPT and Articulate.  I'm putting together a 150 slide preso with ppt animations and audio (synching) and articulate keeps crashing ppt. 

The only answer I'm getting from articulate is to uninstall ms office and articulate and then reinstall everything.  That's not acceptble troubleshooting.

I used to do this same kind of work using ppt and PointeCast and it didn't crash hardly at all.

If anyone has advice for me I'm all ears.  I'm running ppt v7 with the newest version of articulate on a windows xp

Steve Flowers

One of the other advantages to using PPT. As a source format, more folks are likely to have PPT on their desktop than Captivate. This means you can send this file to your clients for review and get comments and adjustments made directly to your source format.  This isn't always an advantage. But it's nice to have the option.

Eric Nalian

Hi Julie,

I had a similar problem, with a large presentation as well (Mine was only 73 slides).  It turned out that somehow my PPT file became corrupted.  To fix it, I exported all of the slides into a new presentation -

  1. Create a new PowerPoint
  2. On the Home tab, click on the little arrow under New Slide and select 'Reuse Slides'
  3. A tab called 'Reuse Slides' will open up on the right side of the screen.
  4. Click on Browse, and then 'From File'
  5. Open a PowerPoint File

After I did this, I did not have that error anymore.

Eric Nalian

Hi Jennifer,

For the audio, I either record it myself or I bring someone in to record it - We started using theatre students from Oakland University.  They are very good, and if you have a small budget for audio, students work very well.  To get the timing right, I record the audio using captivate (or if I am using articulate, I record it there), and using the timeline, I adjust when and where the interactions come in.

From my experience in Captivate (I am not an expert in it....), but you can import your PPT directly into it (Create a new project from PPT, and then import all of your slides), but you lose all of the interactions/animations that you created in PPT (I am using Captivate 4, I do not know if this changed in a newer version)

Phil Mayor

julie mathews said:

Hi.  I have to add that I'm pretty dissolutioned with the combo of PPT and Articulate.  I'm putting together a 150 slide preso with ppt animations and audio (synching) and articulate keeps crashing ppt. 

The only answer I'm getting from articulate is to uninstall ms office and articulate and then reinstall everything.  That's not acceptble troubleshooting.

I used to do this same kind of work using ppt and PointeCast and it didn't crash hardly at all.

If anyone has advice for me I'm all ears.  I'm running ppt v7 with the newest version of articulate on a windows xp

HI Julie

I find articulate can be unstable, a lot of time it seems dependant upon the presenation rather than the instalation.  The only real advice I have is to ensure you put as much content as possible onto the slide masters to reduce the load when publishing.

You may find you are running out of resources (unlikely on recent machines) but could try increasing your swap file size.

Or reduce the number of slides in your presentation, at only 1 minute a slide that is 150 minutes of content.  I find articulate functions best at a maximum of 70-80 slides

Not much help sorry


Jennifer Bartels

Any help with PPT to Captivate?

Everything on the Powerpoint slide is imported as an image. So, if you have a text box in the Powerpoint slide with several lines of text, you can't modify the individual text lines.

Also, if you have animation associated with each line of text in Powerpoint, or animation associated with an image, the animation goes away. If you want to have individual lines of text appear with audio voice over in Captivate, you have to delete the image that was imported from Powerpoint and re-enter the text using captions in Captivate.

Am I just using this feature incorrectly? It seems like I can just upload background images.

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