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Creating an Instructional Simulation Using PowerPoint

After you give a presentation or demo on how to use an application, website or other tool, you may want to test your audience’s knowledge of the steps required to complete a task.

As a training professional with more than 25 years of experience, I frequently get requests for ideas about how to ensure employees know how to use the tools required to get their job done. Telling people is not enough. Complicated simulations (imitations of how real-world process or system works) can be expensive to create, develop and maintain. Emulations (software that duplicates the functions of another system) tend to be costly as well.

Sometimes, all that’s need is a simple simulation. To make a functional instructional simulation, capture a screen (using the Print Screen key.) It’s on your keyboard using Microsoft Windows. Add some interactivity, using PowerPoint 2013 features including animation, transparency and triggers. What makes this work is the simplicity and ease of maintenance and use. Additionally, you can record your voice to create a compelling slide show.

To create a self-test, create a PowerPoint presentation and add instruction at the top of the page, such as where to click to perform a certain step. Then, paste in a screen capture of the application or website. Next, complete these steps to add the interactivity.

  1. From the Insert menu, choose the Text Box item and add a text box over the area you want the user to click. Right mouse click on the item and choose the Format Shape… option. Click Solid Fill and set transparency to 100%. Then, click Line and choose Solid Line and then set transparency to 100%.
  2. Create another text box with the words “Correct” and drag it off screen.
  3. Select it and click the Animations tab in the menu bar.
  4. Click the Animations pane to display that interface.
  5. Click the Selections Pane button from the Format menu option.
  6. Rename the current text box to Feedback.
  7. Rename the first text box to Correct Spot.
  8. Click the Animations button in the menu bar, scroll down the list and under Motion Paths, select Lines. Drag the line to reflect how you want the text box to fly onto the screen.
  9. Right mouse click the Feedback text box and select the Effect Options item.
  10. Click the Auto Reverse check box and click the OK button.
  11. Click on the Feedback text box and from the Animations menu, click Fly In and then click Trigger. From the On Click Of menu, choose Correct Spot.
  12. Click the Slide Show button. You want to test your simulation. This is at the bottom of the screen.
  13. When the user clicks on the correct spot, correct should fly in and out. If not, you may need to select the screen capture object. Right mouse click and choose the Send to Back option.
  14. You can repeat this steps to add more places to click and more feedback.

Using PowerPoint, it’s easy to create a simple simulation to test a user’s understanding of your instructions. This doesn’t require any special software and easy to maintain.

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