Adobe Presenter is an eLearning development tool that plugs into Microsoft PowerPoint. It counts itself among similar PowerPoint add-ins designed to help eLearning instructional designers create lessons rapidly. As such, you access Adobe Presenter from within PowerPoint, where you’ll see it as another tab at the top that, when clicked, opens the Adobe Presenter ribbon. See Figure 1.
Figure 1: The Adobe Presenter ribbon
Tools that plug into PowerPoint tend to be easier and faster to use than more powerful tools, but of course they also tend to limit your instructional design because you have less power. However, what’s remarkable is that Adobe has added some very useful features while still retaining Presenter’s simplicity.
First things first—to use all of Adobe Presenter’s features, make sure that you save your PowerPoint with a PPTX extension, standard since PowerPoint 2007, and not the older PPT extension. Once you do, all the options on the ribbon will become available.
Not for Macs
Like all PowerPoint add-ins, Adobe Presenter does not work within PowerPoint on a Mac, as the Mac version of PowerPoint does not allow for add-ins. Note that there is a product for the Mac called Adobe Presenter Video Express. It is a more limited product and not a PowerPoint add-in.
What’s in a name?
In a way, it’s a shame that the current version is still called Presenter, because the name seems to indicate that it’s to be used for building enhanced PowerPoint presentations. What is the difference between a presentation and an eLearning experience? Simply put, the latter should be much more interactive, engage the learner in decision-making opportunities, and in every way involve the learner as much as possible. That is the true point of using Adobe Presenter and some of its competitors. They allow you to create eLearning experiences, not just presentations.
The new features in Presenter 9
I reviewed Presenter 8 last year; you can read that review here. In short, Presenter has a number of great features, including interaction wizards, quiz questions, progress tracking, and much more, as you saw in Figure 1.
Here I will focus on the new features available in Presenter 9. Adobe has an added 15 new reasons to entice you to use Presenter.
New feature 1: Drag and Drop (Really!)
- Drag and
Drop is one of those interactions that you just don’t expect to find in a
PowerPoint add-in, so it’s very welcome. It was added to the different quiz
question types available, which also include multiple choice, true/false, fill in
the blank, matching, rating scale, sequence, and hot spot. It’s easy to use and
you can have users drag any mix of text and images, though I find it best if
you match text items to text items and images to images. You also have other
options, as seen in Figure 2, where you can see that I’ve set up four drag-and-drop
items and targets.
Figure 2: The Drag and Drop Question Type Dialog, Part 1
You have some text-formatting abilities (see Figure 3), and you can have multiple items point to one target if you wish, such as when you want to present a number of items to the learner and have the learner sort them into two categories. Targets can include text items, images, or blank areas that you would place on top of the background image in strategic locations. For instance, the background image might be of an instrument panel and you would place the blank areas on top of different panel instruments.
Figure 3: The Drag-and-Drop Text Options
Once you’ve set up the drag items and targets, you proceed to the second part of the dialog, as seen in Figure 4. Here you can resize the images and move the items and targets where you wish.
Figure 4: The Drag-and-Drop Question Type Dialog, Part 2
There are a couple of limitations of the drag-and-drop question type:
- Presenter places the text items you want to drag in “puzzle” text items. If the target of a text item is also text, it looks nice because they snap together. However, if the target item is an image, it looks a little odd to have the dragged item look like half a puzzle piece.
- It would be nice if we could have some alignment tools for positioning the drag and target items. The grid is nice, but you can’t snap objects to it. Future improvements?
New features 2 and 3: Accessibility improvements
- Presenter has now enhanced the accessibility features of Presenter so that you can deliver to audiences that include those with disabilities. This will help you meet the requirements of Section 508 of the American with Disabilities Act.
- When using the built-in video recorder and editor, you can now have Presenter automatically create closed captions from the video narration. You can edit the captions, of course, and you probably will, because no automatic capture service is perfect. This feature uses a cloud service, so you’ll need to be online when using this. The video recorder is one of my favorite options in Presenter and this just adds icing to the cake.
New features 4, 5, and 6: Audio and video improvements
- Another new feature in the video editor is Annotations. While recording a video, you can hold down the shift key and use your mouse or touch screen to draw a circle (clockwise or counterclockwise) or a line to emphasize part of the screen you’re capturing at the time, and it will appear in the correct time in the video. When you subsequently let go of the shift key, the annotation will disappear at that point in the video.
- The audio interface that you use to record audio and synchronize it with slide bullets and other animations is improved and it feels more intuitive.
- New audio filters have been built into Presenter that help to eliminate background noise and enhance the audio volume.
New features 7, 8, and 9: More learner involvement
- A new feature in Presenter lets learners ask questions or provide
feedback to the course instructors or designers. The question will point to the
specific part of the lesson that the learner is viewing and the instructor or
designer can reply to the question so the learner sees the answers. You can also
use this to see who is participating most and award those learners. You can
even encourage learners to participate by making their participation part of
the curriculum. See Figure 5.
Figure 5: Collaboration options
- A welcome new option in Presenter is that of the
scenario template. Presenter
provides four scenarios: business, call center, medical, and generic. (You can
also create your own). In general, scenarios present a situation for the
learner to solve, and then provide options, each of which leads to a different
outcome, most of which are usually wrong while one or more may be right or
Presenter scenarios let you create scenarios that have two or three options, one of which is correct. What Presenter does is to create the appropriate PowerPoint slides and set up the navigation between them correctly. You could actually build scenarios in PowerPoint directly without Presenter, but it proves daunting for many so Presenter is a great way of setting up the scenarios more quickly and easily. While the initial slide set that Presenter creates is limited to two or three options from which the learner chooses, there’s no reason you can’t continue to build on the scenario in PowerPoint directly. See Figure 6.
Figure 6: A Scenario template
- In the Slide Manager, you can now turn off the user play bar on any slide, which means the learner won’t be able to simply navigate to the next slide but will need to focus on the current slide. This helps ensure that learners won’t quickly move past important sections of the learning.
New features 10 through 15: New technology support and more student tracking
- Presenter 9 now works in PowerPoint 2013 (32-bit), and still works in PowerPoint 2010 (both 32-bit and 64-bit) and PowerPoint 2007 (32-bit).
- Presenter now supports Windows 8 as well.
- Besides its existing support for SCORM and AICC to track student progress, Presenter 9 supports the Experience (Tin Can) API.
- More support is included for publishing to Android tablets and the iPad using a free mobile app. You can also track student progress, but only to AICC-compliant LMSs (not SCORM or Tin Can).
- You can use Adobe’s own on-line analytics engine to track and give you basic metrics on overall student performance at no additional charge. This eliminates the need when a learning management system investment might be overkill. See Figure 7.
- You can use the analytics engine to also
pinpoint specific learner shortcomings and help individual learners by
recommending more or different material to them. See Figure 7. (Pooja
last Thursday explains more about the analytics engine.)
Figure 7: Analytics included in Presenter
Adobe Presenter provides a free 30-day trial at www.adobe.com/presenter. You can purchase licenses or you can subscribe to them:
|Upgrade from Presenter 8:||$199|
|Subscription, one year commitment:||$15/month|
PowerPoint add-in tools for eLearning development have been around for years, and they’ve come a long way in what they provide. Adobe Presenter is a very attractive package, especially when you consider the subscription pricing. In short, if you need to turn PowerPoint presentations into viable eLearning lessons, you’d be smart to use Adobe Presenter.