Powerpoint interactions #6: Interactive Map

“Ha ha,” said my friend. “That looks like something from a 1980s James Bond film where the villain is planning which continent to zap…” I laughed – because I guess it does. It’s a bit old school… but why not.

Screenshot of the outputSo get your retro shades on, and check out this interactive world map. It’s PowerPoint only, output with Articulate Presenter.

It’s not really an e-learning template as such – more of a design for a reference interactive, born out of a desire to see how much you can fit on one Articulate Presenter “slide” using just PowerPoint.


The source map I used for this is a Robinson projection that comes from Wikipedia Commons.

I won’t go into much detail about slicing up the map – in Photoshop, I used the magic wand tool to delete the blue (sea), and the lasso tool to get six separate continents on a transparent background, saved off as six separate files in PNG format. These were then imported into PowerPoint and lined up, using a background of the full map as a guide. Once in place, the guide image was deleted, leaving six images in PowerPoint – black and white, with a transparent background.

It was then possible to colour the images at will using PowerPoint’s “recolor” feature  – I found using the light and dark variations on a white image with a transparent background works pretty well, as does the drop shadow.


The way clickable graphics in eLearning evolved is partly influenced by the HTML constraints we used to have to work with. The standard way to do it is as a static image, with different parts that change colour on rolling over or clicking them.

But why keep the proportions the same? The inspiration actually came from the limitations of using PowerPoint with Articulate Presenter. You have no easy possibility of a mouse rollover state, but you can sure get something to happen when you click – you can change the whole slide by hyperlinking to another one.

What’s happening for the map “animation” is you’re jumping between 7 slides – the first shows the “normal” world, and the other 6 show distorted versions, with changes in colouring. Your mind fills in the gaps (see previous interaction #5). You could achieve something similar with the Grow/Shrink animation, but you would have to have (7×7)-7 slides to do this – 35 – because you would need a transition from each possible state to each other possible state.


I was not content to click through the continents and give overall information about them, so I decided to take it to the country level by using flags. I must admit I didn’t realise there were that many countries when I started out, but by then it was too late.

The flags are all from PowerPoint clip art – a pretty useful feature (just go Insert>Clip Art and search for the country). To fit with the old-school feel, I used an old-school animation in fast series for the flags and country names – Swivel (vertical).

The detail for each country is given by hyperlinking to another slide. I’ve only done one for each continent, as an example. The animation of the continent shrinking down is done by:

  • Shift-clicking to select all the 7 elements you want to export from the relevant continent slide – i.e. each continent graphic, and the continent title
  • Right-clicking on the selection and choosing “Save as picture”
  • Choosing PNG – as you then keep your transparent background
  • Reimporting the picture and using a Grow/Shrink and Motion Path animation together to shrink it down. This then has a hyperlink back to the relevant continent

Hyperlinks out to the WWW give the deeper level of detail about the country (satellite imagery, wiki, etc.). Leveraging web content like this enables you to point your learners to deep sources of information, but still keep the control in their hands – they have to make a conscious decision to click the hyperlink, and then only if they want to.


So here is the PowerPoint. You can customise it, for example if you want to:

  • Show multinational branches / presence
  • Give a basic geography lesson

I would ask that if you do use this, could you please attribute:

  • Wikipedia Commons for the map
  • Me (by linking back to this blog)

Have fun! And if you’d like something customised please contact me.


  • This won’t SCORM track easily due to the hidden slides.
  • The loading may take a second here and there due to the size of the images.
  • The continental boundary choices are my own – Indonesia and Malaysia shouldn’t really be in Oceania, or Turkey in Europe… It just looks better :-)

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