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June 17, 2019

Better than Bullet Points Book Review


​The author, Jane Bozarath, promotes PowerPoint as a tool that can go beyond presentations and be used for online learning. She states that PowerPoint is a good substitute for someone who has limited resources and isn’t able to purchase more robust programs. The design focus in this book is on instructional design and not overall visual design, which is clearly evident with the amateur looking examples. Even though this book is somewhat dated with its focus on PowerPoint 2013, the general concepts in the book can still be applied today for creating basic e-learning modules.

​​Overview of the Book

​Section One: Foundations

​This section sets the stage for using PowerPoint as an e-learning tool with examples of types of activities such as multiple-choice quizzes, matching exercises, and case studies. The author provides an overview of the e-learning instructional design model used in the book. This model reflects Dr. Richard Mayer’s development model (Select, Organize, Integrate) and his principles of multimedia learning. Throughout this section there are several examples of online learning to help the reader transition from text-based slides to online learning screen or scene. Before the development stage, the author provides different techniques for doing a storyboard of ideas. Also included is handy development checklist that reflects the instructional design model.

​Section Two: Interface and Content

​This section is focused on how to use specific tools and features within PowerPoint for developing an e-learning module. It covers user interface, navigation, images, animation, quizzes, narration, and multimedia. There are several before and after examples for the different techniques and features.

​Section Three: Delivery and Support

​This section includes the last chapter of the book which overviews several different options for making your e-learning modules available to learners. The focus here is best for individuals using a learning management system. The appendix gives a brief run through of the different tabs and commands within PowerPoint 2013. Lastly, there are several resources to consult for learning more about e-learning, software, and examples.


​I debated whether or not do this review as Better than bullet points, 2nd edition is not a book I can recommend. At first I thought the book might provide some good guidance for either developing online courses or tutorials or for building instructional design knowledge. However, the book does not do a very good job as an instructional design text or an online learning development text or a how-to PowerPoint book. It floats vaguely in the middle of all three of these. The book itself is already six years old and it shows with the examples throughout the book, which are really amateurish (almost circa 1990s). Also, as we move into the third decade of the 21st century, I am not sure PowerPoint as an exclusive e-learning tool is realistic. Most current learning management systems have learning module/tutorial capabilities natively within them. For any small businesses or solopreneurs there are better options either as standalone platforms or plug-ins for content management systems like WordPress.

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Jennifer Sharkey is known as the Virtual Presentation Specialist. Being passionate about seeing people shine and be heard, she leans into her 20+ years of public speaking experience and uses what she has learned from presenting, both in-person and virtually, to small groups all the way up to 5000 people. Jennifer draws from her experience as an associate professor, academic librarian, and coach to help holistic coaches master virtual presentations to grow their business. Her unique immersive program provides practical strategies and methods to build confidence, engage audiences, and generate authenticity and authority.

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