How to reduce your e-learning file size

Happy CamperOne way to decrease the size of your PowerPoint file, which in turn decreases the size of your published .swf file is to use the Save as Picture function in PowerPoint.  For instance, if you insert a Clipart photo, you can dramatically reduce the size by using the following process.

1. Insert your image.
2. Right-click on the image and select Save as Picture.
3. Save the picture file with your other assets.
4. Delete the original Clipart image.
5. Click Insert Picture and select your newly created picture.

Actually, it is probably good practice to save the original image in case you need to go back and edit it.  A good way to do this is to use two separate PowerPoint files; one for your images and one for your course.

Don’t think using the Save as Picture function can help decrease file size?  Take a gander at the file size comparisons below.

File Size Comparison



The first is a .pptx file with the image inserted directly from Clipart and then saved.  The second file used the Save as Picture process above and inserted the new image.  Notice any differences in file size?  Granted that isn’t gonna break the bank, but think about all the images you put into your e-learning course and how quickly that file size grows to monstrous proportions.

Another great point Tom Kuhlmann advocates is using slide masters as much as possible.  To decrease your publishing time, put as many of your assets that you can on slide masters.  It makes your publishing speed faster which makes you more efficient and productive.

How I made that job aid: Maximizing with minimal space

In my previous job I designed instructional materials for clinicians learning the electronic medical record (EMR), the majority being nurses.  We would start classroom training about 8-10 weeks prior to implementation.  The switch was flipped and the system went live.  During those first few weeks, my team provided on-site support at the hospital, continually making rounds to see if each unit was having any issues with the EMR.  Part of this go-live support involved providing a paper job aid that could be carried around in a lab coat pocket.

As you can imagine there is only so much information that can fit on a card that size (approx. 3.5″ wide by 5.5″ tall).  One challenge I had while developing a job aid for surgical nurses was the number of screens they had to click through to complete their documentation.  I solved the problem by cropping like an Iowa corn farmer and layering the different steps.

Here is a screen shot of part of the final product.

Job Aid

And here is the process I used to create it in Microsoft Publisher.

  1. I listed the steps with as little text as possible.
  2. I then took screen shots of all of the separate steps.
  3. In Photoshop, I started with the first step and pared it down to the bare minimum, put a blue border around it, and added the yellow numbers to correspond with the stepped out list.
  4. I added a layer on top and put the second screen shot with border and numbers.
  5. I continued this process, layering the shots on top AND dropping them down so the viewer’s eye naturally flows down the page.

Using this process several times allowed me to put multiple screens of content onto a small pocket-sized job aid.