Creating Engaging Online Content with PowerPoint

During the times of social distancing, online education becomes extremely important. I worked for more that 10 years in evangelism and content development, and I want to share with you some secrets on creating engaging online content at home using PowerPoint.

Now social distancing measures are upon us, and everybody suddenly has to switch to teaching remotely. From what I see when talking with my friends, teaching at three universities in Russia and observing how my daughter switched to distant education at school – no-one knows how to do it properly. I do not know either, but I firmly believe that pre-recorded content is very important.

The main problem in online education is keeping focus, and thus traditional lecture or seminar that is broadcasted using Teams/Zoom is not good enough. That is because a lecturer over remote is not as engaging, and the tempo is not fast enough due to questions/interruptions from the audience, which are not always relevant to everyone.

I believe the following points are important:

  • High tempo / high energy due to pre-recorded and edited content.
  • Switching formats and using Teams/Zoom discussion sessions, Forms for knowledge tests, and Azure Notebooks for some interactive coding.
  • Ability to watch lecture together with comments that can be achieved by broadcasting in twitch/youtube and some collective content watching platforms.
  • Using collaborative tools such as collaborative editing, project planning, and GitHub.

Today I want to focus on creating pre-recorded content. Obviously, professional video filming and editing is better, but in fact you can create quite good content at home as well. One of my most popular courses on C#) was create at home using Microsoft PowerPoint.

The main secret is that PowerPoint has powerful recording features, but they are hidden from the ribbon by default. Once you switch the Recording section on in Options, you can:

  • Narrate the slides, using inking and drawing on slides along the way, and recording the “talking head” video from webcam
  • Recording your screen
  • Exporting the presentation as MP4 video

You can also do some basic video editing along the way, cut moments of silence at the beginning/end of slide, re-record only some slides inside the presentation, etc. Using PowerPoint as editing tool turns out to be much more productive than recording the screen during presentation in one go.

In the following video, I show you the process:

Dialogue & Discussion