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PowerPoint is the presentation component of the Microsoft Office suite. This program's intent is similar to OpenOffice Impress or Apple's Keynote. While this page will talk about PowerPoint, many of the suggestions apply to other presentation programs.

Reducing file size for the web

Reducing the overall file size helps any presentation be more user friendly on the web. Not all users have high speed internet access or the latest and greatest fastest computers in the world. Some basic steps for reducing the size of PowerPoint or other presentation files or pages are:

  • Don't use large images - 1024 pixels wide by 768 tall is an upper limit. Remember different computers will have different screen settings. What fits on yours may be bigger on mine.
  • Do re-size any image to the size you are going to use in your presentation. That 1024x768 image which displays at 102x76, just could be kept by the program at the larger size.
  • Don't 'allow fast saves' - this option only appends new content to save time, it doesn't remove deleted material
  • Be careful about a cut and paste of an images from other programs. Images might not compress.

Exporting to different formats

Most presentation programs have the ability to export into other formats. These alternative formats can also be used by Moodle. Of course, you can create a resource link directly to your presentation and allow you student to download.


Most presentations can be exported to a series of web pages using HTML and file images. The web export features have a variety of options that offer quite a bit of control in producing the output and mimic the presentation application experience. The student does not download the entire presentation. By default, Powerpoint on Windows does not export HTML presentations using the UTF-8 character set, but it allows for this through a setting in the Web export dialog.

Moodle. After uploading the file structure of an exported web presentation into your course, you can use the File or website link to point the student to the index page of the presentation in a new window. The presentation can easily include links to other resources and once created the author, can easily integrate a variety of other materials without having to re create these in Moodle.


There are several commercial plugins that can export Powerpoints or other presentations as self-contained Flash movies. These may be smaller than standard PowerPoints, though file size reduction can also be achieved without converting to a different format. OpenOffice's Impress and Apple's Keynote both have this functionality built in. :TIP: do not expect all of the more advanced features of your presentation to transfer into a Flash file.

TIP:It is possible to convert PPT to SWF online at site like Zamzar -

Rich Text Format (RTF)

You can save a most presentation in Rich Text Format. In PowerPoint select File>SaveAs> and use the file type 'Outline/RTF' in the dropdown menu. In doing so you will lose all images and graphics and create a text file that can be opened in Word or PowerPoint, amongst other applications.

TIP:Did you know you can import an outline from a word processor into some presentation programs?

Portable Document Format (.pdf)

Most presentation programs will have a built in method to convert your presentation to an Portable Document Format. Adobe has a free reader but there are other products which will read a PDF file.

An alternative is to "print to" a virtual PDF printer using another program. There are a few free open source programs and many commercial products that will create PDF files. For example QPDF is a free PDF file creator.

PowerPoint alternatives

Your students do not need a copy of PowerPoint to view presentations. Microsoft makes a viewer program available for use on Windows and Mac OS X. The free, OpenOffice Impress is available for Window, Linux and Mac OS and adds the ability to create and view presentations in PowerPoint compatible format.

PowerPoint Viewer

The PowerPoint Viewer is a free download from Microsoft. As with all viewers, this program may not have full compatability and parts of your presentation may lack certain features.

See: PowerPoint Viewer 2003 for Windows.

Apple's Keynote

Part of Apple's iWork office productivity package (along with Apple Pages). Can open and save PowerPoint compatible files as well as saving in its own format and allowing export as PDF, Flash and Quicktime movies.

See: Apple Keynote

OpenOffice Impress

Part of the free and open source OpenOffice office suite. Can open and save PowerPoint compatible files as well as saving in its own format and allows exporting as Flash and PDF.

See: OO Impress description

Moodle presentation like modules

There are several standard Moodle resources and activities that will allow you to create presentations within Moodle. And there are many third party Contributed code plugins and modules as well.

A lesson activity creates linked visual pages of content in a variety of ways. Both Lesson and PowerPoint can be turned into an asynchronous adaptive teaching tool. Some simpler PowerPoints can be imported into a Lesson.

The Slideshow module uses HTML and has a focus on images.

Presentation module is another Moodle HTML based activity.

Another simple option is to use one of the resource tools to link to a presentation stored in your course files or in another place.

Presentation abuses

Many educators note that PowerPoint (or other electronic presentations) is not used efficiently or effectively by the presenters in most mediums from a learner perspective. There are many approaches to making an effective presentation, which vary according to the environment of the presentation (face to face vrs asynchronous on line, is one).

  • Too much visual information on a page
TIP: Step back 8 feet from your 20" computer screen, can you really read it?
TIP: Reduce the number of fonts or graphics on a page
TIP: Break the content up into more pages
  • Ignoring the conflict between audio and visual processing by viewer
TIP: Give viewers your speaking notes, have supplemental resources available along with your screen presentation.
  • Inconsistent formatting
TIP: different bullet type every page, being cute to be cute)
  • Same format every page
TIP: Use 3 or 4 formats on longer presentations, each one alerts viewer to your intent. Examples: 'here is what I am going to tell you format', 'here are the details' format, 'here is what I just told you' format.