Problems with PowerPoint in online courses.

You can upload PowerPoint presentations into Blackboard Learn using the Build Content/File option. However, there are some good reasons not to do so. PowerPoint is a great tool for in-person presentations, but it doesn't work so well when you separate the presenter from the presentation. Therefore, we generally discourage its use in online courses. What we say here about PowerPoint also applies to Keynote, Prezi, Google Slides, and Open Office presentations, etc. but we mention PowerPoint specifically because it is the most commonly used tool.

Here are some of the issues:

  1. Blackboard can't open PowerPoint Presentations directly, so the user must download and open the presentation in order to view it.
  2. PowerPoint's "Save as Web Page" and other export options don't work very well.
  3. Sometimes, the user will have problems downloading the file, locating the file on their computer, or opening the file.
  4. Students will need to have PowerPoint, the application program, installed on their computer in order to access the content, and the software is expensive for students.
  5. If the student has an old version of PowerPoint, they may not be able to open a new .pptx file type.
  6. While there are free alternatives that can open PowerPoint presentations (Google Docs and Open Office for example), a complex presentation created in PowerPoint may not import without errors.) 
  7. While you can annotate your voice to PowerPoint presentations to "fill in the gaps," this creates new issues.
  8. It can be a challenge to create accessible PowerPoints with embedded audio.
  9. Presentations with embedded audio are larger in size, which causes them to download more slowly, and this also puts a storage burden on the Bb Learn server.   

The e-Learning Center is here to support faculty as you implement instructional technologies in your courses. We can help you brainstorm your options so that you are satisfied with the implementation, and your students can use it efficiently and effectively.

A better approach might be to re-design your PowerPoint presentations as HTML pages that can be viewed directly in Bb Learn using the Build Content/Blank Page option.

If, in the end, you choose to upload PowerPoint presentations into your course, you will want to let your students know that they will need PowerPoint or a compatible viewer to see/hear the content. You will also want to have a transcript of the audio available for students who cannot hear it, and you will want to make sure that a screen reader such as JAWS can sensibly read aloud the text part of the presentation.

Please don't hesitate to contact the e-Learning Center with any questions you might have.

Last updated: Jul 9, 2013