Monday, August 5, 2013

iSpring Free vs PowerPoint 2013: Not a clear winner

If you've read my blog before you probably know I am a big fan of PowerPoint to video conversion since many faculty already know how to use PowerPoint and I think that PowerPoint itself is not a bad tool if used thoughtfully.

Before we got 2013 on campus, my clear winner for PowerPoint to video converters was iSpring Free. You record audio in PPT, publish into flash via the iSpring tab (super quick publishing), and stick that baby right in D2L because it is so small. This worked very well for a faculty member I assisted in the spring. He even had videos within his videos that worked just fine. His biggest file was 10MB - most were in the 5-7 MB range. However, I did get the videos in for him after he had completed the PPT, so I know exactly what was going on. He also practiced the art of zen powerpoint design to keep it simple, which I believe also helped. However, this summer I worked with someone who experienced some major problems with iSpring Free and my view of it has become a bit more negative.

Problems with iSpring Publishing:
  • File sizes are not always super small (I banked on them being small and they weren't for a person I recently worked with)
  • Laser pointer usage does not save (in case you didn't know, you can use your mouse as a laser pointer while recording a slideshow in PowerPoint. It does save if just published via PPT). 
  • The iSpring website is tricky and a few people accidentally downloaded the free trial of the pro version rather than the really free version, which was a huge pain because they are not compatible and the trial version puts a huge watermark on the video. 
  • iSpring publishes into flash (swf), which is clearly not good. There is an HTML5 converter, but who wants to do that?
  • Although it is possible to embed videos within the presentation, it does not always work reliably. 
  • Just explaining to people why they need iSpring is confusing. 
Problems with 2013 Publishing: 
  • File sizes are never super small and always require streaming (YouTube or university server). 
  • It is not possible to embed additional videos (like YouTube) and have them play back when published. 
  • Hyperlinks do not work (there is no way to even hyperlink to a video to be played within a presentation; they need to be linked separately). 
  • Exporting takes a long time. 

I guess I'm still leaning slightly toward PowerPoint (no iSpring) primarily because it's easier to explain to people, but I miss some of the really basic functionality that iSpring offered, like hyperlinks. I wish 2013 was the panacea I was anticipating.

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