Creating an Interactive PowerPoint Lesson for the Classroom


Duquesne University’s School of Education graduate students are learning to use available classroom technologies to teach. The curriculum for the Program in Instructional Technology integrates the tools that most schools provide in their own computer labs and classrooms. If students use technology to learn, teachers should use the same technology to teach.


The foundation for much of the technology being used in today’s classrooms is the Microsoft Office suite. It is fast becoming the integrated software package of choice for many schools and school districts. Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Access are the staples of many students and teachers. Complementing these tools, Internet Explorer and Netscape Communicator are the tools of choice for accessing the Web. Why not help teachers utilize these same tools to develop text, visual, and Web-based materials for the classroom, and leave the more complex and costly packages to multimedia designers and commercial artists? The success of this philosophy has been borne out by a blistering growth in applications from K-12 classroom teachers, technology coordinators, and corporate trainers to join Duquesne’s cohort.


Interactive Lesson Defined

Students in the Program use Microsoft Word to create text-based class handouts, lesson study guides and student workbooks based on their own classroom learning objectives. They use Microsoft Front Page and Netscape Composer to produce online Web-based Virtual Tours. And they use Microsoft’s PowerPoint to create an “Interactive Lesson.” Interactive lessons take the form of self-paced, student-controlled, individualized learning opportunities embedded with assessment events along the way. In practice, these lessons are offered to students who need individualized instruction, corrective instruction, additional practice, or topical enrichment activities. Specifically, an interactive lesson:


•     Is a visually-based, behavior-oriented teaching strategy appropriate for learners of all ages who benefit from the concrete learning experiences that graphic presentations offer.

•     Contains self-paced instructional content appropriate for students who learn best when instructed at their own pace, or who need the benefits provided by remedial instruction outside the classroom.

•     Offers specific, logical, systematic lessons that foster individualized instruction and sequential learning.

•     Is student-initiated and student-controlled learning that places a good deal of the responsibility for mastering the material directly in the hands of the learner.

•     Embraces all phases of the Mastery Learning instructional technique. It suggests alternatives for presenting the initial mastery objectives, corrective instruction, and enrichment activities.


The instructional system design model offered by Jerrold Kemp (See Figure 1) is used to create the interactive lesson.


Figure 1. The Kemp ISD Model


For each of Kemp’s Nine Elements, a practical, hands-on task is completed as evidence that the skill has been mastered. Here’s how it g'es:


Step 1: The Instructional Problem.

            Task: Select a topic for an interactive lesson


Step 2: Learner Characteristics. Task: Identify target learners for the lesson


Step 3: Subject Content. Task: Identify the specific behavior-based elements that students must master during this lesson


Step 4: Instructional Objectives. Task: Prepare the behavioral learning objectives providing the specific behavior, condition, and criteria for success


Step 5: Sequence the content of the instruction. Task: Lay out the instructional progression of your proposed lesson


Step 6: Instructional Strategies. Task: Create your assessment tools


Step 7: Delivery. Task: Create and prototype your PowerPoint interactive lesson


Step 8: Evaluation Instruments. Task: Conduct the assessment for your lesson


Step 9: Resources. Task: Locate additional resources for the lesson

Lesson design by the numbers: seems fairly simple, right? One teacher composed a presentation that exhibited the best that the interactive lesson has to offer. She called her lesson, “No Bones About It: the Human Skeleton.” How’s that for an exciting topic for Middle School students? If you have your Internet browser available, the complete PowerPoint presentation is available online at Click the NEXT button to sequence through the presentation.


How to Create an Interactive Lesson Using PowerPoint

A menu of options and features makes PowerPoint a powerful graphics development and presentation package. Four features in particular make the Interactive Lesson possible: Action Buttons, Hidden Slides, Kiosk Browser and an Assessment Slide.


Action Buttons

PowerPoint comes with several built-in responses that are easily inserted into a presentation. There are Action Buttons that go to the next slide, indicate an available movie or sound clip, or request help or information. The Slide Show pop-down menu accesses the Action Button option. However, any element in a PowerPoint slide can serve as an Action Button — text, images, or even clip art.


Even more important is the use of the Action Button to assess student understanding. By creating a simple question with several possible responses, PowerPoint transfers students either to new information (if correct), or to remedial information if additional instruction is necessary. For example, a slide asks the question, “What bones are found in both the hands and the feet?” Three possible answers are listed. If students select one of the incorrect responses, “Carpals” or “Tarsals,” they advance to Slide 57 containing negative feedback and, from there, back to Slide 31 to reread the original material. A correct response of “Phalanges” triggers a Hyperlink to advance to the feedback, and from there continue the lesson. Action Buttons enable this interactive feedback, but they would be confusing to the student without the Hidden Slide feature.


Hidden Slides

In its typical mode, students view PowerPoint slides sequentially from Slide 1 to the final slide at the end of the presentation. There are times, however, when a designer might wish the individual to see certain slides only under particular circumstances. An assessment question is the best example.


Unless the feedback slides are hidden, they will be viewed in order as the presentation unfolds. This can cause unnecessary confusion for the student. In “No Bones About It,” a feedback slide is hidden using a pop-down menu. Once hidden, a null icon (a diagonal slash through the slide number) appears when viewing the presentation in the Slide Sorter mode. Now, the only way to view this slide is by directly accessing it using the Action Button and the Kiosk Browser.


Setting a Kiosk Show

You have seen kiosks before. They are self-running presentations found at many trade shows, amusement parks, and conventions. PowerPoint’s Kiosk feature supports unattended slide shows that run continuously unaided, restart automatically after each showing, or require user intervention to advance the slides. It is this last characteristic that makes our lesson interactive. The student must manually advance every slide for this to work properly; that’s why each of the slides in the presentation has its own Next slide button on each slide. Otherwise, the presentation would stop dead in its tracks. We need the Kiosk feature to ensure that the student d'es not skip around the presentation. The teacher alone controls the sequence through the Action Buttons, Hidden Slides, and Kiosk Browser.


Assessment Slide

Earlier in the article, the Interactive Lesson was presented as a Mastery Learning instructional technique. An important premise with this teaching strategy is its underlying dependence on behavioral psychology. To be successful, the interactive lesson must follow a few basic rules. First, it must be logically sequenced. Significant time must be spent structuring the progression of information from beginning to end, least important to most, simple to complex. Second, there must be some form of immediate feedback. Again, this is accomplished using the hidden slides. And third, there must be a summative (final) assessment.


Summative Assessment Slide

A final slide in the presentation can meet this requirement while ensuring that students have completed the lesson, mastered all the learning objectives, and received some reward for their efforts. In a computer lab environment, this final Assessment Slide, displayed in bold colors on each individual computer monitor, alerts the teacher that the lesson has been completed and the student is ready for the next instructional challenge.



Interactive lessons are not new. They have existed almost since the beginning of instructional technology. But now we offer a structured format for designing such lessons using a popular, highly effective, and relatively easy-to-use software package, PowerPoint. Once created using Kemp’s Model for Designing Effective Instruction, the presentation can be captured onto a 1.44MB single floppy diskette (unless there is an inordinate number of graphic images). It can then be copied many times and provided to students who can take the lesson in a formal multimedia classroom, informal computer lab, or even on their own home computers. The interactive lesson has many practical applications for content rich subjects and is highly recommended for your next teaching with technology adventure.




Dr. Lawrence A. Tomei is Assistant Professor of Teaching and Technology at Duquesne University. His responsibilities include developing and teaching workshops, seminars, and in-service programs for practicing teachers. His expertise includes educational psychology, teaching and learning strategies, and the use of technology in the classroom. He holds a BSBA from the University of Akron, MPA and MEd from the University of Oklahoma, and an EdD from the University of Southern California.


E-mail: [email protected]


Maggie Balmert is a full-time Academic Advisor for Duquesne University. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and is a former teacher from the Greensburg Salem School District in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. She is currently completing a Master’s degree at Duquesne University in Instructional Technology.


E-mail: [email protected]


This article originally appeared in the 08/01/2000 issue of THE Journal.