Aside from being a powerful content authoring tool, Microsoft PowerPoint owes its popularity to high compatibility and rich import/export options. You can easily convert your presentation into video, PDF and other globally acknowledged formats in just a couple of clicks. However, if you need to make your deck accessible via a learning management platform, you’ll have to use a special LMS-friendly format like SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model) or Tin Can.
Learning management systems are in a league of their own, yet it’s worth mentioning that LMSs not only exhibit content but also store statistics of viewer activity. LMSs are personalized and secure, which means your content is safe from misuse and unauthorized access. These systems provide functionality for online cooperation and learner feedback. Long story short, if you are serious about designing your content to work smoothly in a professional e-Learning environment, you should definitely check out what this format has to offer.
A SCORM package is, in fact, a universal container that may be comprised of different content types such as video, Flash, HTML5 or presentations. PowerPoint-to-SCORM conversion is no rocket science when you have a few dedicated tools handy. There is a plethora of free and paid choices on the market. Let’s try to save you a few bucks and see how you can seamlessly transition the content into SCORM without dipping into your pocket.
1. Get familiar with Office Mix
Update: As a result of one of the latest updates, the ability to export PowerPoint presentations to SCORM format has been removed. Stay tuned for more updates.
Office Mix is a free plugin that enables you to record interactive online videos with PowerPoint, from version 2013 onwards. This is how it works in a nutshell: create your PowerPoint presentation, record your screen/camera and voice, include comments and extra footage, and publish the material to a learning management system. Mix also helps you embed quizzes, assessments, polls and other basic interactive elements.
As Office Mix developers claim, it was conceived as a nifty tool for educators and instructional designers to introduce new teaching techniques based on good old PowerPoint. Naturally, it delivers smooth compatibility with SCORM as the key standard for e-Learning content packaging. By using SCORM, educators can make their content visible in an institution’s LMS or invite students or colleagues to watch the course directly on OfficeMix.com.
Besides, you can easily share Office Mix content anywhere online by using the embed.ly and oEmbed protocols, spread the word via social media or distribute through corporate platforms like OneDrive for Business.
All in all, Microsoft has really gone the extra mile to knock out the e-Learning market players. The tool is totally free and easily matches most paid authoring functionality. On the down side, there might be scenarios where Office Mix falls behind. For instance, there is a teensy glitch with YouTube videos. If you publish your presentation to the Office Mix online platform, you can build in a YouTube video, and it’s going to work just fine. If you publish to SCORM, it gets complicated since the presentation itself is converted to a video.
Summarizing the above, you employ the Export to SCORM feature and convert your mix to a SCORM package. Packages are displayed as courses in your LMS. Bear in mind that this export option has technical limitations. Once converted, interactive elements will get lost and analytics will no longer be available in Office Mix.
2. Check out iSpring Free
There are a bunch of tools that can help you with lossless SCORM conversion. iSpring Free is one of the easiest and most convenient.
Here’s a step-by-step walkthrough:
- Download iSpring Free and follow the installation instructions;
- Open the presentation you want to convert to SCORM;
- Navigate to the iSpring Free tab;
- Click Publish;
- Choose the file format (Flash or HTML5), check “Generate SCORM 1.2 Compliant course” and click Publish;
- Your SCORM package is ready!
Like many authoring tools, iSpring delivers a product range that builds on PowerPoint’s mighty functionality and adds a bunch of nice extra features. Not surprisingly, iSpring knows how to deal with PowerPoint and all its bells and whistles. The iSpring Free converter is a smart choice, since it leaves all transitions, animations and triggers intact after conversion. Everything, including fonts, effects, and embedded videos will look exactly the same as in the original PowerPoint file.
3. Convert to HTML5
Looking for other flexible formats that can help your content go viral? Try HTML5 or Flash. A little googling will get you a list of free – and decent – online converters. However, as always with similar conversions, pay attention to output quality.
The same iSpring converter will do a good job. Just archive your content and voila! Once you get your deck converted, pick a slide hosting service and upload the course for greater visibility, or embed the HTML on your website.
It’s worth mentioning that some conversion software can save your presentation in a bundled HTML5+Flash format. This ensures the content will be available for all desktop, mobile and tablet devices as well as any browsers, however slow, obsolete, or Internet Explorerish.
How is a plain HTML package worse than SCORM? Is there a big difference? SCORM is essentially an archive that includes an HTML presentation and statistics files. An HTML container will easily open in any LMS, yet miss out on data collection. It goes without saying, you really need consistent stats to see how your course is doing. The message merits repetition: choose your converter responsibly unless you don’t mind losing cherished effects and valuable data.
Plus, you may easily compile a SCORM package from a converted HTML5 presentation on your own. Check out my article on the subject.
Indeed, many authoring tools offer a SCORM conversion feature. This article just covers a few free options, so your input is warmly welcomed. Do you know any other ways to convert PowerPoint presentations to SCORM at no cost? Did they work well for you? What were the pros and cons? Share your experience in the comments below!