Recording lectures in video format is time consuming and cumbersome to edit. Furthermore, the instructor’s face/voice becomes embedded in the video, discouraging other colleagues from reusing those video when they teach the same module. Also, simply digitizing a traditional lecture does not produce an effective e-Learning lecture as e-Learning lecture materials should be more visual, more animated and interactive as compared to traditional lecture materials.
A PowerPoint plugin called PowerPointLabs was developed to allow an instructor to simply refine the existing video lessons rather than create them from scratch. Video lessons can be generated straight from PowerPoint slides, and more importantly, audio narrations for the video (using text-to-voice synthesis) can be generated from the text in the slide notes so that the instructor need not record his or her own voice/face in the video. The videos so generated can be updated simply by editing the slides and re-generating the video. PowerPointLabs has a host of other features (e.g. a Prezi-like zoom-and-pan feature) to make the slides more visual and more dynamic and the resulting video more engaging when compared to a recording of a traditional slide deck (an example video generated by PowerPointLabs).
In an experiment, majority of students preferred the videos created by PowerPointLabs over traditional e-Learning videos – some students appreciated that the slides could keep students engaged in class and were easy to follow. As another indicator of success, PowerPointLabs has been used by thousands of users since its public release in 2013.