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MS PowerPoint vs. Articulate Storyline 2 for Interactive Learning Modules

© Ugur Akinci

I’ve been comparing MS PowerPoint with Articulate Storyline 2 for the last couple of days since I’m trying to make learning modules a part of my tech communication tool kit. Gone are the days when all users wanted was a big thick “user guide.” Now users want to engage themselves with the material on multiple platforms, including social media. One important step in that direction is adding interactivity to our presentations.

Overall, I think  Articulate Storyline 2 (AS2) has a huge advantage over PowerPoint (PPT): PPT is a presentation software whereas AS2 is an interactive learning software. Yes, PPT offers some degree of interactivity but it pales next to what you can do with AS2.

Branching and object modification are important features AS2 offers that PPT does not, at least not at the same level. FOr example, when as a user I click and make a choice on an AS2 “scene”, the figure on the scene can change his or her expression, matching the outcome. For example, if I’ve ,made a wrong choice, the figure can frown and ask me to repeat the quiz. Or if I make a correct choice, the figure can congratulate me and then move me over to a different scene.

There are many successful examples of interactive learning modules you can create with AS2:

https://www.articulate.com/products/storyline-showcase.php

One other interesting feature AS2 provides are SLIDE LAYERS. You can add different “outcome layers” to the same slide, WITHOUT actually creating new slides (as would be the case in PPT), and then link each action (clicking different objects etc.) taken on the BASE LAYER to these different layers.

In a project with dozens or even hundreds of slides, this will help you keep the number of slides to a minimum since you can have many “slides” as “layers” hidden inside the BASE LAYER.

Articluate Storyline 2 Slide Layers

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MS Word 2013 Useful Table Design Features

© Ugur Akinci

I like the following MS Word 2013 table features a lot.

1) The ability to add a row or column at one click

When you hover your cursor in between two rows or columns, MS Word 2013 displays a “+” handle. If you click the plus, a row or a column will automatically be added to your table.

MS Word 2013 Add Column to Table MS Word 2013 Add Row to Table

2) The ability to erase cell lines with an eraser

MS Word 2013 offers a real ERASER on the table design tab. Click to select it. Click on any cell line to erase it. This eraser comes in very handy when you are merging cells.

MS Word 2013 Table Eraser 1

3) Coloring alternating rows/columns, adding header and last row

You can accomplish all these tasks by simply selecting their respective check-boxes in the table design tab.

MS Word 2013 Table Design Options 1

MS Word 2013 Table Design Options 2

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Technical Communication Education in China is Picking Up Momentum

Shanghai Skyline

Shanghai Skyline (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

© Ugur Akinci

This new report does an excellent job is narrating the development of technical communication education in China since the 90s.

The report looks into three periods:

  1. From 1997 to 2000 The Budding Stage
  2. From 2000 to 2008 The Seedling Stage
  3. From 2008 up to Now The Growing Stage

The most recent addition to this process is the new technical communication course offered by the Peking University. The curriculum covers:

  • Introduction of technical writing
  • Document types and writing styles
  • Technical writing mindset
  • Methods, tools, and processes
  • DITA and its application in technical writing
  • XML and tools for technical writing and editing
  • The newest concept in technical writing (CMS management included)

A detailed look at a country that will shape the future of technical communication no doubt due to its sheer size and the rate at which its economy is developing. Where there is economic development, there needs to be technical communication. China is just another example that proves that generalization.

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