Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Custom Branching Navigation with PowerPoint

 By Joseph Suarez

PowerPoint-based rapid eLearning tools, such as Articulate Presenter and Snap by Lectora, allow branched navigation, meaning you can create a non-linear navigation path still controlled through the course player’s next and back buttons.  But, did you know it’s also possible to add your own custom navigation buttons onto a slide? Not only is it possible, it’s really simple!

There are just three steps involved. With your course open in PowerPoint 2007 or 2010:
  1. Create a text box, insert a shape, or add an image onto a slide
  2. With the new item selected, click “Action” on the Insert ribbon menu
  3. From the Action Settings box, check “Hyperlink to” and choose a desired action 

Here is the full list of all available actions (some may not apply to course development):
  • Next Slide
  • Previous Slide
  • First Slide (restarts course)
  • Last Slide
  • Last Slide Viewed
  • End Show (closes course)
  • Custom Show
  • Slide (links to a specified slide)
  • URL
  • Other PowerPoint Presentation
  • Other File
It’s also possible to add most of what is on this list to an object by clicking “Hyperlink” (the button left of “Action” on the ribbon). But, since actions are simpler to add and have more options, you might as well just use them instead.

Be sure your text describes the action accordingly, and write from a user’s point of view as a course taker. Here are some examples: 
  • “Review Course” - returns to first slide
  • “Exit Course” - uses “End Show” action
  • “Retry Quiz” - links to a specific slide with a quiz
Taking the idea one step further, it’s possible to combine these custom navigation buttons with the rapid eLearning tool-controlled branching. A perfect example would be a quiz branching to pass and fail slides as shown in the basic example below.

First, create the necessary pass and fail slides after the quiz slide.

Next, set up the slide branching with your rapid eLearning tool. Articulate Quizmaker can branch to different slides on pass/fail directly. Snap allows the same ability through the “Slide Explorer” screen.

Then add your links or buttons with custom actions to the corresponding page. In this example, the fail page doesn’t allow the user to exit the course. Instead, a user must either retry the quiz or review the course material (return to slide 1), which eventually leads to another attempt to pass the quiz. Once the quiz is passed, the “Exit Course” link uses an End Show action to close the course.

Techniques like this can be employed throughout a course to both enable and enhance branching navigation. Just be sure not to go overboard with the idea. Too much jumping around can disorient the user taking the course.

1 comment:

  1. Just a quick thought on "cheap tracking"- you can have the action be a mailto: with a coded subject line automatically sent to training admin or manager using this technique.


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