Difficulty scale (in terms of creation and students support): varies from LOW to HIGH depending on the format choice.


Why would I want to deliver this type of material online?

In blended courses, delivering presentations online reduces the amount of time spent covering course concepts and allows more face-to-face class time to be spent in small group activities or discussion.  It also allows students to review materials 24/7.

In online courses, narrated presentations increase instructor presence which is connected to student perception of engagement.  It also allows for directive learning opportunities (for instructors to highlight certain important aspects of the content).

What are the most common formats?

Online presentations can be delivered in a number of ways.  Here are the most common:

  1. Text-only – these are usually documents created in a word processing program and converted to PDF.
  2. Text + image – these are usually PowerPoint (or Key Note) slides with text-based notes.
  3. Text + visual (image + sound) – these are usually narrated presentations (PowerPoint).

Below is a diagram showing a variety of formats digital content.  Items on the left side of scale are easiest to create, deliver, and support in the online environment.  Items on the right side of the scale are the most difficult.  When choosing which format to use when creating online presentations, use the lowest technology that will fit your needs.  For more information, see the presentation “Overview of Content Delivery in the Online Environment.”



 What are the important considerations for this type of digital content?

Lecture capture

While it is common for new online instructors is to think that they should record their face-to-face lectures and distribute them online, it is rare that these recorded lectures translate successfully to the online environment.  The task of “lecturing” changes dramatically in the online environment.  Course content goes through a redesign process.  For example, if a concept is covered in the textbook, you can assess knowledge of that concept through a brief online quiz; as a result you don’t have to cover that material again in the lecture.

Lectures that are designed for the online environment tend to be more concise, focusing on the information students need to complete assignments.  They often serve to summarize or contextualize concepts receive through the textbook or readings.  In addition, video lectures are located on the right side of the digital content format scale (above) which means they are the most difficult to create, deliver, and support in the online environment.  These should only be used when the lecture requires both movement and sound.


As with all digital content, accessibility is an important consideration.  Not only is it important to ensure that materials are accessible to students with disabilities, it is also important for some students with family or work obligations.

Online presentations should be readable by screen readers.  This means that the presentation should have accompanying text that has identifiable characters.  You can ensure that your presentation has accompanying text through one of the following methods.

PDF documents created in MS Word:

If you used a word processing to create a text-only lecture, Microsoft Word 2007 (or Mac OSX) will convert documents to PDF format.  Screen readers should be able to read text that was originally created in MS Word.

PDF documents created using a scanner:

If the PDF was created using a scanner, it will be an image, not text.  The scanned PDF will not be searchable or accessible by screen readers.  To make your PDF searchable and accessible, you can perform Optical Character Recognition (OCR) using Adobe Acrobat.  Adobe Acrobat XI is available on computers in the UWM Libraries or for purchase through WISC – Wisconsin Integrated Software Catalog http://wiscsoftware.wisc.edu/wisc/

For help on applying ORC to a PDF using Adobe Acrobat XI, see: http://wwwimages.adobe.com/www.adobe.com/content/dam/Adobe/en/products/acrobat/pdfs/adobe-acrobat-xi-scan-paper-to-pdf-and-apply-ocr-tutorial-ue.pdf

Scripts to accompany narrated presentations:

If you plan to create a narrated presentation, create a text-based script before you record your narration.  Not only does this make the recording process easier (you will make fewer mistakes that need to be re-recorded) it will also ensures that students with disabilities have access to the content.

Scripts (with accompanying PowerPoint slides) are also useful for students who wish to read material rather than listen to it.  These students may not have access to a computer (they are riding the bus or working out in the gym) or they may prefer to read because it is faster than listening to a time-based presentation.

Voice recognition software:

While not as common as scripts, it is possible to record your narration and then use voice recognition software to create a transcript.  After “training” the software for your voice, you can import an audio file and software, like Dragon Naturally Speaking will create a text transcript.  The resulting document contains text ONLY, you will need to add punctuation and paragraph markers.  You can improve the accuracy of word recognition by training for discipline-specific or problematic words and re-importing the audio files again.

With some work, word recognition accuracy can be as high as 90%.  However, the time required for the initial setup is only justified if you have a significant amount of pre-recorded files to transcribe.  For presentations that have not yet been recorded, most feel that creating a script in advance of the recording is the fastest and easiest way to create a text transcript.

Transcription services:

Transcripts can be procured through paid services.  UW-System has a contract with Automatic Sync Technologies (http://www.automaticsync.com/captionsync/) and 3Play Media (http://www.3playmedia.com/) to provide transcription services at a reduced cost.  For more information on these providers, please contact the LTC.


What software will I need?

To create text-only material:

Microsoft Word 2007 (or later) or Mac OSX will convert presentation text to PDF format for distribution through D2L.

MS Word can be downloaded through the Office 365 environment.  For free access to Microsoft products (provided to UWM faculty, staff, and students) see: http://uwm.edu/o365/student-advantage/

To create text + image material:

Text + image presentations usually comprises a series of PowerPoint (or Key Note) slides with text-based notes.  Once created, these notes can be converted to a PDF for delivery on D2L.  MS PowerPoint can be downloaded through the Office 365 environment.  For free access to Microsoft products (provided to UWM faculty, staff, and students) see: http://uwm.edu/o365/student-advantage/

Information on the process of creating PDFs with text-based notes and PowerPoint slides can be found below in tutorials and training.

To create text + visual (image + sound) material:

iSpring Free creates narrated presentations which can be viewed in Desire2Learn.  iSpring Free is not stand-alone software, rather it is installed as a menu item in Microsoft PowerPoint.  Finished presentations are optimized for the web (Flash-based SWF file) and can be uploaded directly into D2L.

Unfortunately, iSpring Free is not compatible with Macintosh computers.  As an alternative, SlideBoom creates narrated presentations that are similar to iSpring Free.  Presentation created through SlideBoom live on the web which allows for reliable viewing.  The disadvantage (for some) is that the online presentation could potentially be accessed by those outside the class, although this is unlikely.  Please contact the LTC for additional assistance with creating online presentations using a Mac.

Please see the tutorials and training section (below) for a separate helpsheet covering the use of iSpring Free and SlideBoom for creating narrated presentations.


What hardware or additional tools will I need?

It is highly recommended that you use microphone headset for recording your voice.  This will assure that the microphone remains at a fixed distance, creating a consistent volume level throughout the recording process.  We suggest the Logitech® Stereo Headset H390: http://bit.ly/p670G3  However, any noise-cancelling, USB-connected microphone headset should suffice.


What training or tutorials will I need?

Creating PDFs with text-based notes and PowerPoint slides:

It is best to create a script to use when recording your presentation.  This script can be copied and pasted into the “notes area” (located below each slide in the “Normal” view) in your PowerPoint presentation.  The presentation can then be converted to a PDF containing slide images and text using the following tutorial: http://uwmltc.org/?p=925

A web tutorial on “Creating a PDF presentation with notes and slide images using PowerPoint for Mac” can be found here: http://uwmltc.org/?p=6521

Creating narrated PowerPoint presentations using iSpring Free:

The following tutorials will help you create narrated presentations for online delivery:

  • Creating a narrated presentation using iSpring Free 7 (with Windows 7 and Office 2010) and uploading it to D2L’s (10.3) Content area: http://uwmltc.org/?p=11710
  • Creating narrated presentations using Slideboom (for Mac Office 2011) and embedding it to D2L’s (10.3) Content area: http://uwmltc.org/?p=11681

How do I know if my PDF is an image or text?

Open the PDF in Adobe Acrobat and select the [Select Tool].  Drag the mouse across the text.  Of it just creates a rectangle rather than highlighting individual words then it’s an image.

Using Dragon Naturally Speaking to create text transcripts:

You can use Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium Edition (the Dragon Home addition will not work for this application). After training the software, you can import the WAV files that were created during the original narration process in PowerPoint.  You can improve the accuracy by training for discipline specific words and re-importing the audio files again. Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium Edition can be purchased here: http://www.nuance.com/for-individuals/by-product/dragon-for-pc/premium-version/index.htm