PowerPoint Branching


    I was experimenting with using PowerPoint to create self-guided training material and discovered the ability to custom slide shows.  I don't know a whole lot about creating sophisticated PowerPoint decks, but this is a pretty nifty technique that is simple to apply.  It allows PowerPoint shows to contain a rudimentary branching effect.

    If we think of the flow through our deck as a graph:

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    We can mark a certain set of slides as defining a custom slide show.  For the above diagram, we would create the "Equation" branch and the "Describe" branch as well as a branch per "Learning Style".  Do this by:

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    And create your new slide shows by selecting the appropriate set of slides from your current deck:

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    Next, go to each page where branching is possible, choose the text you want to launch the slide show, and add an action for it:

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    Be sure and check the Show and Return box when choosing a custom show action.  If you don't the slide show will end as soon as the current branch is done.

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    If there is more than one level of branching is used, use breadcrumbs to let learners keep track of where they are and how to get back in case they want to change one of their choices or go down more than one path. Here I placed them in the page footers:

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    This is an interesting technique but it certainly has some rough edges.  For the trainer's part, keeping all the links updated is a pain for larger decks.  Putting links in footer text is a page-by-page endeavor as far as I can tell.

    It is possible to define the action of a click to be opening another PowerPoint file.  This might make maintenance of larger decks easier, though I'm not sure how well breadcrumbs would work.  It would also make shared slides more difficult to maintain.

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