Visualization methods: Periodic table

I came across this great resource via Kevin's blog. It's a periodic table of visualizations. Move your cursor over each one and an example pops up.

Let me know if you've found other resources like this.

Have a great Easter!

PowerPoint vs. Interactive learning

PowerPoint is a pervasive application used in many, if not most training settings. Sadly many of these PowerPoint presentations can be described only as ‘death by PowerPoint’ rather than being a good learning experience. The fact that PowerPoint is so pervasive generally means that it is used as a starting point for many of my discussions with customer related to developing customized and interactive eLearning materials. Some customers are happy with using PowerPoint presentations for eLearning and their interest in merely in outsourcing the production of these materials to an eLearning vendor. In this case it takes me some time to persuade the customer that there are more effective and engaging methods to teach people using an electronic method such as eLearning. The frustration from a vendor perspective for this example is that the customer doesn’t necessarily understand the complexity of developing a customized eLearning program and they may become frustrated by the amount of effort and time required to build a program. For this type of situation education of the customer is as important as the end user. On the other side of the perspective there is the customer who has tried using a PowerPoint training course deployed via the web which a lot of negative feedback from the user population. Sadly, many of these courses are not redeveloped due to budgetary or time constraints (something that I’ve heard numerous times). Although this customer understands that PowerPoint is not the answer, they also need to be educated on how eLearning programs are developed and how much time and effort is involved to develop a truly engaging and interactive program.

Having said all of this, I agree with Clive Shepherd that PowerPoint is not to blame per se. I think the main culprit is the business community, which has used PowerPoint in a lazy fashion. We are all used to the slides with terrible animation and thousands of bullet points and sadly this has become the accepted norm. Although I haven’t seen too many good examples of an interactive PowerPoint eLearning course I am sure there are examples out there. Although PowerPoint is not a great platform for developing eLearning materials it could very easily be used by a skilled developer to meet specific needs.

My point is that the technology is not that important, what really counts is how the training is developed. Understanding the objectives, content, audience, deployment method etc. is essential to developing a good training program. Blaming PowerPoint for not delivering is similar to blaming eLearning for not meeting its full potential. Ultimately, we should look at who creates the content, rather than what was used to develop the program.

What are your thoughts? What has your experience been with PowerPoint or PowerPoint-like training programs?

BTW, this discussion was stimulated by recent customer discussions, Clive Sheppard's blog post Don't blame PowerPoint as well as April's Learning Circuits' big question: ILT and Off-the-Shelf Vendors – What Should They Do? which addresses time-to-market and costs associated with developing custom content. Obviously cost is always a factor, especially when dealing with the customer that is satisfied or ok with the Powerpoint-type courses for eLearning.

Please also check out Learning Cicuits' big question in January which discusses quality vs. speed when it comes to eLearning development.