Wednesday, October 19, 2011

iSpring for PowerPoint

I've recently been using iSpring Presenter plugin for PowerPoint to produce online versions of my lectures.  Alane, our campus instructional design guru, recommended that I try their free trial version . . . so I did.  And I like it!

You may have seen my online presentation Online Lectures using Hughes Presenter (aka Helius Presenter, PointeCast Presenter) in which I explained how I use such online lectures in my human anatomy & physiology course. I still like Hughes Presenter, but it has lagged behind the evolution of PowerPoint.  For example, Hughes Presenter is not supported for use with PowerPoint 2010 and they don't seem interested in keeping pace with the real world.  So I'm looking for alternatives.  And iSpring is powerful contender.

In my A&P course, I use online lecture presentations to cover some basic introductory material before each major topic.  By having students participate in an online introductory lecture before coming to class, I can spend time on the tougher, advanced aspects of each topic in class rather than spending a lot of time on the straightforward introductory material that really doesn't require any tricky explanations or Q-and-A interaction with students.

I also sometimes use online presentations instead of having a substitute professor cover my class when I cannot be there for class.  That not only frees up department resources, my students also appreciate the continuity of having the same professor all the way through.

I also sometimes use an online lecture to repeat what I've covered in class so that students can go back and repeat a particularly tough topic on their own.  This allows them to really "get it" by experiencing my explanations again (and again, if they need to).

And online lecture presentations allow me record professional development presentations that I give, so that folks who can't make it to my workshops can still have access to what I have to share.

In an online course I teach, I use brief online presentations to introduce each week's discussion topic and weekly activities. 

My colleague Mary Ann,  who is delivering an online Human Biology course, uses  iSpring Presenter to provide complete online lectures on each topic of her course.

iSpring  is more than just a narrated PowerPoint producer.  It also has these interesting and useful features:
  • You can use your webcam to record your image as you deliver your presentation.  This can increase your viewer's engagement with you and your presentation.

  • The iSpring plugin allows you to easily create and embed quizzes in your presentation.  This can further improve retention of material by making sure the viewer understands the content.  It can also be used to get viewers to begin applying what they have learned.  The quiz feature is SCORM compliant, so results can be linked your LMS.

  • Because the iSpring program converts your PowerPoint to a Flash presentation that runs its own onscreen player, viewers don't have to download huge PowerPoint files before they can start viewing your presentation.  The first slide begins playing while the later slides are downloading in the background.

  • The iSpring player allows you to show a customizable outline alongside the slides, allowing viewers to skip ahead or back to review particular slides.

  • The iSpring player also allows you to show your notes, which could be transcripts for each slide narration . . . a really nice accessibility feature.
There are a lot more features to iSpring, but this gives you the general idea.  To get an even better idea of how iSpring works, check out this brief video.