Computer-based training (CBT) has many advantages over other training techniques. First, CBT can be scaled to any number of employees regardless of their location, so it's perfect for organizations. Second, it's flexible enough that employees can skip the training sections that they already understand or review sections that they haven't yet learned or need refreshing on.
Until recently, CBT could be very costly to develop. Now, you can use Microsoft Producer for Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2003, a free download for PowerPoint users, to develop CBT at a very low cost and make it easy to distribute training through your intranet. Your training materials can incorporate video, audio, slides, pictures, and screen captures of software programs.
Create a training presentation in Producer
Before you begin working on your presentation, make sure that you have downloaded and installed Producer 2003. You need to have Office PowerPoint 2003 installed first. To download Producer 2003, go to PowerPoint 2003 Add-in: Microsoft Producer for Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2003 and follow the instructions.
To create your own multimedia CBT session, first use PowerPoint 2003 to create slides to accompany your presentation. You can use more than one slide deck. Then create a CBT presentation in Producer by following these steps:
- Click Start, All Programs, and Microsoft Office, and then click Microsoft Producer for PowerPoint 2003.
- Click Use the New Presentation Wizard, and then click OK.
- On the Welcome to the New Presentation Wizard page, click Next.
- On the Presentation Template page, select a template that fits the format for your training. If you plan to use both video and slides, pick a template that shows both. You can change templates later, so don't worry if you're not sure you chose the most appropriate template. If you have video or slides for only part of the training, you can switch between these template styles during playback.
- Click Next.
- On the Choose a Presentation Scheme page, select your fonts and colors. These can also be changed later.
- Click Next.
- On the Presentation Information page, fill in your information, and click Next.
- On the Import Slides and Still Images page, click Browse to import your PowerPoint presentation, select your presentation, and then click Next.
- On the Import or Capture Audio and Video page, click Browse to import any media that you plan to use, select the media file, and then click Next.
Note If you want to record your own video, follow the procedure in the next section. If you want to record computer screen captures, follow the procedure in the section titled "Capture video of your computer screen by using Producer."
- On the Synchronize Presentation page, click Yes, and then click Next.
- On the Complete Presentation page, click Finish.
Capture video by using Producer
You can use Producer to record video by using a USB webcam or digital video camera by following these steps:
- Connect your webcam or digital video camera to your computer by using a USB connection.
- Spend a few minutes planning and rehearsing what you will say.
- When you are ready to begin recording, click Tools, and then click Capture.
- On the Capture Video, Audio, or Still Images page, click Video with audio and then click Next.
- On the Video and Audio Capture Setting page, select a target audience connection type and a video display size, and then click Next.
- On the Choose Capture Devices page, configure your camera settings. Use the Video preview box to be certain that the picture is clear, and click Next.
- On the Capture Video and Audio page, click Capture to begin recording.
- Look directly at the camera lens, and avoid looking away.
- Hold your head straight and still.
- Avoid any excessive gestures or movements with your hands.
- Record short video clips. If you make a mistake, short clips are easier to rerecord. Later, you can combine your clips in Producer.
- When you have completed recording your video, click Stop. If you want to rerecord the video, click Cancel, and then repeat the previous step. Otherwise, type a name for your video file, and click Save.
- Click Finish to exit the Capture Wizard.
- Your recording appears in the Video node on the Media tab. Drag it to the Video Track on the timeline.
Capture video of your computer screen by using Producer
If you are creating CBT in order to train employees how to use a computer program, you can use Producer to create a video screen capture that has optional narration. This is an excellent way to demonstrate how to complete tasks in software programs, including where to click. To capture video from your computer, follow these steps:
- Start the program that you want to record.
- Walk through the steps so that you know exactly what you want to do and where you will click. If you plan to narrate your video, practice your narration, and consider writing a script.
- When you are ready to begin recording, start Producer.
- On the Tools menu, click Capture.
- On the Capture Video, Audio, or Still Images page, click Video screen capture with audio and then click Next.
- If you plan to narrate the video, select your microphone source.
- When you speak into the microphone, the Input level slider should move about halfway up. Test your microphone's input by speaking into the microphone. If the input level is too low or too high, adjust the slider accordingly.
- Click Next. At this point, Producer is minimized, showing only the Capture Wizard in a blue-outlined box on your screen.
- Start the program that you want to record, and resize the window so that it fits within the blue-outlined box. To adjust the size of the box, click the Video display size list and select a size. Remember, small sizes work best. To move the box, drag it.
- When you are ready to begin recording, click Capture in the Capture Wizard. If you plan to narrate your video, don't forget to begin speaking!
- Hold down the mouse button for at least a second before you release it. This allows the viewer to see what you are about to click.
- Avoid scrolling quickly or moving the mouse too fast because this can be hard to for the viewer to follow.
- Speak the name of each link, button, and menu that you click. This helps people who are not visual learners remember how to perform a task.
- Keep your videos short. Record tasks in separate videos, rather than making one long video that describes multiple tasks. If you make a mistake, shorter videos are easier to recapture.
- When you have completed recording your video, click Stop in the Capture Wizard.
- Type a name for your video file, and then click Save.
- In the Capture Wizard, click Finish to return to Producer.
- Your recorded video file appears in the Video node on the Media tab. Drag your recorded video file to the Video Track on the timeline.
Modify your presentation
You now have a basic presentation that is ready to be modified. At the bottom of the screen is the timeline, which you can use to synchronize your video, audio, slides, and pictures.
Three tabs are near the top of the window:
- Media Click this tab to import video, audio, images, slides, or Web pages. After you import your media files, you can drag them directly onto the timeline. You can also use this tab to change templates by clicking Presentation Templates and dragging the template to the timeline.
- Table of Contents Click this tab to modify your introduction page and reorganize your content. By default, different entries are created for each slide in your PowerPoint presentation. Your audience will be able to click the entries in the table of contents to quickly access different sessions of the training.
- Preview Presentation Click this tab and then click Play/Pause to see how your presentation looks.
After you have prepared your media, you can modify the media by following these steps:
- On the Media tab, drag your video, audio, slides, and images to the appropriate tracks on the timeline. If you recorded narration, drag it to the Audio 2 Track.
- Drag items on the timeline to place them in sequential order for your presentation.
- Click the Preview Presentation tab.
- On the timeline, move the current time indicator (CTI), which is the blue box at the top of the timeline, to the beginning of your presentation.
Current time indicator (CTI)
- Click Play/Pause to preview your presentation.
- If you notice that a clip needs to be trimmed, click Play/Pause, click the clip, and then drag the left or right side of the clip to trim it.
- Continue previewing your presentation, making revisions where necessary.
Publish your presentation
When your presentation is completed, you can publish it so that other people can access the training. Follow these steps:
- Click the File menu, and then click Publish Presentation. The Publish Wizard appears.
- On the Select a Playback Site page, click one of the following: My Computer, My Network Places, or Web Server.
- Click Next.
- On the Publishing Destination page, provide the requested information. The specific information required depends on where you are publishing the presentation.
- Click Next.
- On the Presentation Information page, click Next.
- On the Publish Setting page, click Next.
- On the Publish Your Presentation page, click Next. Producer saves multiple files to the location you specified. This takes several minutes.
- On the Presentation Preview page, click Internet Explorer 5.0 or later for Windows. If the Microsoft Internet Explorer Information bar appears, warning you that content was blocked, click the bar, click Allow Blocked Content, and then click Yes.
- When Internet Explorer displays your presentation, click Play to view the presentation.
- Note any changes you want to make to your presentation.
- Note the location of the presentation in the Internet Explorer Address box so that you can share the URL with employees in your organization.
- Exit Internet Explorer.
- On the Presentation Preview page, click Finish.
Now you have created your own CBT and helped train others in your organization.
Benefits of online training
You can use CBT to help you meet the training needs of your organization in a cost-effective and expedient way. After you become familiar with the process of using Producer to create CBT sessions, you can rapidly produce and distribute CBT sessions. You can even develop a full library of online training materials so that employees in your organization can develop the skills they need in order to master their jobs.
About the author Tony Northrup, MVP, MCSE, and CISSP, is a technology consultant and author of dozens of books and articles about using Microsoft Windows and Internet technologies. He writes to help people safely use technology to communicate, share, and learn.