Beyond PowerPoint Presentations

Amy Rottmann and Salena Rabidoux recommend these free, easy-to-use presentation tools to improve student outcomes in online courses.

October 18, 2017

A variety of user-friendly presentation tools can help instructors guide students to a heightened understanding of content in an online environment. Presentation tools can move beyond a text-based slide, whether instructor created or student created. Plus, integrating design techniques and creativity to relay information can be easy and free.

Below are several tools that can easily become part of your online environment. With each tool there is an example of a completed presentation.


An easy-to-learn, online drag-and-drop tool for creating slideshow presentations, fliers, ebooks and other resources. Canva offers stock photos, illustrations, icons, fonts and shapes. Canva also offers opportunities for collaboration and is available on their website and/or through their mobile application. Click here for an example.

An infographic generator with no login required, offers a multitude of templates that are easily searchable and can be adjusted to create a new product. Users can create a free account, which allows them to save and download their final product. Click here for an example.


A stunning presentation tool that offers templates for slide shows, video presentations and 3-D presentations. Users can import presentations from PowerPoint, add background music, create graphs and add hyperlinks to outside content or to slides within a presentation. Click here for an example.


An online digital binder where users can add web links, documents (including PDFs), images and videos. Users can systematically arrange content by tabs and even subtabs to organize material, which could replicate the process of progressing through a learning module. Multiple users can collaborate on binders; the free account offers up to 10 binders. Click here for an example.


A Microsoft program that offers the ability to create interactive presentations, newsletters, photos, videos, etc., where the final product looks like a website. The presentation offers transition options with horizontal or vertical movement replicating animation on a website. Sway provides templates and tutorials to help new users learn the system quickly, and projects can easily be shared by a link. Click here for an example.


A digital canvas with interactive capabilities that can increase student engagement. Users can import an image that serves as the canvas backdrop. Once the background canvas is chosen, users can add tags that appear in numerical order on top of the image, which can scaffold the content. Tags can include text, images, videos, website links and rich media. It’s a collaborative tool that allows others to comment on the final product. Click here for an example.


An interactive formative assessment presentation tool, where users can identify a video, upload it to Vizia and then create interactions. Some interactive features include multiple-choice questions, true/false questions, polls and open-ended questions. Users can set up analytics where answers go directly to a Google Drive spreadsheet. Click here for an example.

Share Article

Amy Rottmann is assistant professor of education at Lenoir-Rhyne University. Salena Rabidoux is teaching program coordinator and instructional designer at the University North Carolina at Wilmington.

Back to Top