The quest for ways to keep learners engaged is never-ending. There are many different tactics out there, but one of the most exciting trends in Learning and Development (L&D) is animation in eLearning. Despite some of the misconceptions, animated content is quickly growing in popularity among learning consultants.
You may be thinking, using animation requires you to be a great artist or have experience working as a Graphic Designer. In reality, there are some great options when it comes to tools and templates requiring little to no formal training as an artist.
This article will break down a few myths and look at ways to get started using more animation in your next eLearning project.
Myth #1: You need to be an Artist to Animate
When I started creating animated videos, I thought drawing my characters was a necessary first step. So after not picking up a drawing notebook and pencil in years, imagine my relief when looking at PowToon, a user-friendly animation software for the first time.
If you haven’t seen it, check out the free trial they offer and some of the templates they include to help you get started.
While you can upload custom characters, they offer a vast content library, including stock images and animations. From animated characters and props to entire scenes, there is very little you won’t find.
My initial experiences became even more exciting after learning about the different types of animation I might want. Whiteboard videos, stick figures, even characters with customizable wardrobes were all available without ever picking up a pencil.
So no, you don’t need to be an artist to create engaging animated content.
Myth #2: Animation is for Kids
When it comes to making a case for animation in eLearning, some organizations may be skeptical. I’ve heard learning leaders say it doesn’t match the brand voice or it is not professional. However, animate is a verb defined by Merriam-Webster as “making or designing in such a way as to create spontaneous lifelike movement.”
Simply put, it has to move. GIFs or cartoons can create a more visually stimulating experience in today’s world, and both are considered animation.
In either sense, the way animation is applied will dictate how well it aligns with your organization’s brand. The more important consideration, in my opinion, is alignment with the tone for the information to be learned.
Authors at Vyond highlighted remote training specifically in an article explaining the value of using video animation in eLearning. The post shows a wide variety of animated videos, some cartoons, and others live-action video clips. Hopefully, you are beginning to see the wide range of options available when it comes to animation.
Considering an article from LiveScience on Comic Sans, animated content may suffer a similar fate as this classic text font if not used correctly. Therefore, choosing the proper context and content for your animation is critical to being an effective modality to support learning in any organization.
Myth #3: Investing in Animated Content is Too Expensive
We’ve debunked the myths about the different ways to use animation in eLearning and the need for formal art training. But, as a learning consultant, you may also need to overcome objections around cost and development time. In an article on PowToon’s blog, they give you the information to continue supporting your case for visual communication in general.
While they make a compelling case for this type of content, you may need to address a perceived lack of resources.
The first thing to remember is creating animated videos is not the high-cost endeavor it may have been in the past. So yes, you could spend quite a bit of money creating videos. Still, by being creative in incorporating animation in eLearning, you can be successful on your own or by outsourcing.
If you prefer the do-it-yourself approach, tools like PowToon and Vyond have preset scenes you can modify to meet your needs. However, using these templates shortens the learning curve and significantly impacts the development time required to produce quality animations.
On the other hand, if you are looking to outsource development, you can use Facebook and LinkedIn groups to connect with a community of designers and developers who specialize in creating animation for eLearning. The other option is working with a talent agency to identify the right animator for your next eLearning project.
The key is brevity. If you are looking to create a full-length movie with animation, you will blow your budget or spend hundreds of hours developing content on your own. However, if you focus on videos or animated summaries 3 – 5 minutes long, you can usually create great content on a dime.
Recommend Animation in the Design Phase
With the need for training to support workers in the field or those spread across multiple locations, eLearning has become a highly desirable modality for training. However, most of us have been through eLearning courses that feel more like reading a textbook instead of an interactive virtual experience. As a result, many people cringe at the idea of an online course.
To prevent this feeling, you need to be intentional about including different content and interactions to keep learners engaged. Start by making recommendations at the beginning of the design process to consider animation in the eLearning project.
The expression coined by Fred Barnard, an Illustrator noted for his work with Charles Dickens in the late 1800s, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” still holds today. Short, animated videos are a perfect option for microlearning and learning summaries.
If this is the first time you plan on recommending animated content, these are two areas where stakeholders may be a little more flexible. By keeping your videos brief and relying on templates, you can stay within the project parameters and add variety to your eLearning content.
These early wins lay the foundation for more visual communication and get you the support needed to incorporate animation in your next eLearning project.
Choosing the right type of content is a critical part of the design process. Regardless of the project constraints, your recommendations need to be realistic and quickly developed. If you are looking for opportunities to incorporate animation in eLearning, recommend it during the design phase of your project.
Choose a tool with the right look and feel for your content, explore the templates and try your hand at creating short pieces of content. Then, if you and your team think it is a good fit, start building a case for visual communication and highlight the benefits of animation in eLearning.
Do you consistently incorporate animation in eLearning? Do you prefer to develop your content or outsource the work to a specialist? We would love to hear your thoughts.
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