Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Why to use iSpring Free to Publish a PowerPoint

iSpring Free is really an amazing program, particularly since it's free. It allows Windows users to publish a PowerPoint with audio into a video. If you want to know how to use iSpring, please see this post.

Why not just record audio into PowerPoint and just give the students the .ppt file?

  1. It will probably be a huge file with audio in it, especially if you follow good design principles and use a lot of high quality images. This takes up space in D2L and on the students' computers, since they have to download it. If the students don't have a good internet connection, it could be slow or problematic to download. 
  2. The students may have problems playing it or opening it because it will function differently based on their operating system, browser, and version of Microsoft Office. Troubleshooting can be difficult because all of these aspects need to be taken into account. You can't assume the students will know how to play the presentation - they may become frustrated trying to figure it out and not view it at all. 
  3. It also just isn't particularly professional to present your content in a format where the viewers can easily see it in edit mode. Publishing it into a video file somewhat increases your ownership of the content, because it can't be modified or reused easily, as it can in .ppt format. 
iSpring fixes all of these problems by compressing the file, publishing it into Flash (there is also an HTML5 option for mobile accessibility), and it plays like a video. An excellent iSpring video won't even look like it's a PowerPoint if you follow good design principles. Remember, PowerPoint is not a bad tool in itself; it can be used as a blank slate.

The #1 advantage of iSpring, though, is the ease of editing later. Because audio is recorded into each slide individually, it is easy to switch out one slide if the content changes or you change your mind without disrupting the other slides. You just keep working with the PowerPoint version, publishing it, and replacing the published file. The publishing process is usually very fast.

Also, while you are recording audio into a PowerPoint, you record per slide so you get to take a break in between slides and if you mess up a slide, it is easy to redo just the one slide so you don't have to edit anything. (Actually you can't edit audio in PowerPoint/iSpring, but it's so easy to redo that I do not see this as an issue).

Ooh! Another advantage is that the files are so small and they function so well that you can upload them directly to D2L rather than hosting them on YouTube or wherever. So, if you are using material or images that are copyright questionable, you are safer putting them just in D2L. Our copyright officer has said that as long as materials are in a password protected environment like D2L, copyright is not as big of a concern (This is the simple explanation; I can go into more detail about this individually if you would like).

Why not use Camtasia (or another screencasting program) to record the PPT? 

This is an option, but the main disadvantage is difficulty editing later. Camtasia is a very nice program, but you have to record your audio all at once and if you make a mistake, you either need to the whole presentation over, live with it, or try to edit it out afterward. Editing is time consuming. I am a technologist, and usually I prefer to just re-record because it takes less time. You also aren't assured that editing will turn out how you want it to turn out. It is not particularly difficult to remove parts of a Camtasia video, but it is difficult to add video in it's place and make it look seamless.

But I'm a Mac user...

So am I! I love my Mac. You can do the whole PowerPoint on Mac (add audio using Record Slide Show as well) and then use a Windows machine to publish it. Most people I talk with have access to a Windows machine. If you need one (and are at UWEC), let me know and I can get it on a lab or CETL computer. If you put it in a projects folder and let me know where it is, I can also publish it for you and put the published file in the projects folder. 

1 comment:

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