Automatically Updating Excel Spreadsheets in a PowerPoint

For our e-learning modules, we use PowerPoint 2007 with Articulate Studio ’09. I created a 35 minute long web-based training (WBT) that is all about the forecasted energy usage for the upcoming summer.  The numbers are updated several times before the final numbers are available.  The only thing that changes in the presentation is data from one Excel spreadsheet.  The PowerPoint is about 80 slides.  The spreadsheet is included on about 30 of those slides.

Halfway through the review process for this WBT, the numbers were updated.  This means going through and updating 30 slides!  You can imagine this is not my favorite thing ever.  Plus, manually changing the numbers really invites mistakes.

In the past, we recreated the table in PowerPoint.  I’ve been researching ways that we can give the spreadsheet to SMEs to update that would link to the data to our PowerPoint.  When using “Insert Object” in PowerPoint, it would not ask to update the links upon opening the PowerPoint.  Then, I found the article called

Automatic Updating of Excel Tables in PowerPoint Slides
By Dave Paradi, MBA, Co-author of “Guide to PowerPoint”

This provides the steps to copy an excel spreadsheet (from within Excel) and, using the Paste Special function, paste a link to the spreadsheet.  By doing it this way, I can now choose to update the file every time it opens. 

One caution is that if you move the spreadsheet to a new location or if you rename it, it will break the links.  However, if you are careful with file placement, this can help for trainings that use spreadsheets with data that could change quite a bit.

Thanks Mr. Paradi!


Sharepoint Permissions – Challenges to Learning While Doing

As a new SP (SharePoint) developer, I have so much info I’ve crammed into my head to try and create a good design for our department records and functions.  In past experiences, I was a domain admin. 

This morning, I encountered a funny incident.  I just got Infopath and SPD (SharePoint Designer) loaded onto my work comptuer.  I have used SPD in other environments; ironically, I have never used it for SP itself. 

I spent a solid hour or two trying to figure out why I couldn’t get my SP page to load.  I am trying to change the Quick Launch, and I found a great article from Microsoft that covers the changes that I need to make:

This handy getting started article has all the info I need to make the changes I want.  When I couldn’t get the page I wanted to edit to load into SPD, I tried this article:

From here, I realized I should probably bite the bullet and contact IT.  I was really worried that I was asking a noob question (uhhh, how do I open my page in an editor???), so I spent another half hour or so trying to find where I went wrong.  You know, just in case.

Finally, I contacted IT.  Thirty seconds later (we have such a good IT department!), I got the answer.  My permissions are still in process. 

So, I guess the lesson learned this morning is to make sure I know what I’m allowed to do before assuming I can’t do it or can’t figure it out.  The good news is that when everything is set up on the IT side, I will be more than ready for this challenge!

Selling SharePoint to a Training Department

It’s been about a month since I’ve fully delved into MS SharePoint as a site admin. The company where I’ve been consulting has a very structured and very responsive IT department, including our SharePoint administrator.  He’s gotten me set up with our training site, and an administrative subsite.  My first goal is to get our records moved over from our antiquated LAN server over to the SharePoint server.  I’m learning SharePoint, planning moves, and documenting everything like a champ.

There are so many positive things that can be used in SharePoint that we could never do on the LAN!

  1. We don’t have to sign in twice, and the authentication makes things more seamless.
  2. SharePoint can help us organize our files.
  3. We can use it to archive our records and eventually automate the process.
  4. The SharePoint server is newer and faster than the LAN server.
  5. I think IT would be happy if we got off the LAN.

I was so excited that I shared all this news with the department.  They were not as thrilled, and since then, I’ve been met with unenthusiastic attempts at adjusting to the upcoming changes.  Where did I go wrong?  What is so bad about automating and connecting and showcasing?

This article called “Stop calling it SharePoint!” may have some insight:

The article recommends NOT using the word SharePoint when referring to SharePoint; however, some of our personnel are equally leery of the tech term “web site”.  They have become comfortable with the term “our department LAN” over the last ten or so years.  Though I believe there are a few more psychological factors involved, I think I get the article’s point:

If our department personnel don’t know how the LAN works, why am I trying to explain how SharePoint works?  

I am going to really try to scale back the tech terminology during the SharePoint implementation – errr, I mean the LAN migration.  There are tons of things that I want to take advantage of in SharePoint, but for now, SharePoint is simply our new LAN server for all [but mine] intents and purposes.

In the meantime, all of the cool stuff I see getting out of SharePoint in our future needs to be sold to our Manager.  If he isn’t a first adopter, it will be difficult to get anyone to agree there’s even potential.

Do you have any tricks or tips to get people charged up about tech changes?  How do you get folks to trust change?




new e-Learning blog!

I’ve been an Instructional Design Consultant for the same company for over a year now. I’m becoming pretty passionate about the development of high quality web-based training modules and exploring different ways to make them unique and comprehensive.  I’m passionate enough to start a blog, at least 🙂

There are a few major things that I am interested in learning.  I am starting this blog not so much with the intention to share information, but I believe that a blog is a great place to store data with metadata.  I will be able to find my stuff!  It would definitely be ego-embellishing if others happened upon my blog and found it [insert positive adjective here].

Anyways, my first project on this blog site will be to explore and compile data about tools that make a web-based training module more like a classroom.  What does that even mean?  For me, that means I am looking to make an e-learning environment that the anti-computer user could appreciate – the kind of person that says learning belongs in a classroom and just will not budge.

My brother would not budge with Facebook (FB) for the longest time.  Every time we’d debate, I’d site the responsible ways it was used, and my brother would provide all the time-consuming, negative aspects of the website.  One day, I told him that he could play Scrabble with me, from 600 miles away.  That was a year or so ago, and he’s been slowly growing into using all of FB now.  The next step will be using a smart phone, the enticement being a fantasy football app (along with sports apps, You Tube, etc).  It’s a matter of time.  The biggest hurdle was getting the grudging acceptance in the first place.  The draw was the ability to play a really cool game for free, and there was no other [easy] way to do it.

Goals for the future include figuring out how to break down that initial barrier to get even the most old-school learner to enjoy their e-learning and to even learn something from it.  Wish me luck!