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5 Reasons to Add Animation to your E-Learning Course

February 8, 2019

Animation is generally thought of as kids entertainment, or as a business tool to market products through your Instagram feed. It’s fantastic for both uses when created well and with the audience in mind. But why leave it there? If you’re involved in designing or developing E-Learning, whether it’s webinars and live training, gamified learning, or an asynchronous module, you should add animation to your E-Learning course.

Don’t just take my word for it as an E-Learning expert who often creates and utilizes animation myself. Below I give you 5 meaningful reasons why you should add animation to your E-Learning programs from now on!

1. Set up scenarios!

It’s essential to give our learners “buy-in” for why they should stick around for our course. That’s true even if the training is mandatory. Using animation, you can briefly show them a situation in which they’re likely to find themselves, and when the course content will come in handy!

I love the below example created by Vyond – my preferred animation platform. Imagine that you’re preparing an online course or webinar on the topic of developing a Growth Mindset. Before diving into the formal training about the subtopic of bias, have your learners watch this fantastic intro and see why it’s relevant for them to pay attention!

2. Cost and time savings

Why should you invest in animation rather than live video? Think about the savings in cost!

To create a quality live action video, you’ll need professional quality cameras, sound equipment, lighting, and talent. All of these aspects will set you back a pretty penny, and it’s nearly always out of budget for small companies or in-house productions.

On top of the financial cost of live video it requires significant time commitments from cast and crew. There are time costs for the casting process, doing multiple takes on set, and post production editing.

In comparison, video animations can be done by a single, knowledgeable individual. The cost is their valuable time, and the subscription to whichever animation software they need. These subscriptions generally range from $300 USD per year to $1000, offering great flexibility for smaller businesses. The final cost could be professional voice actors – although I have successfully and professionally used in-house talent. That includes well-directed members of my department, and even myself!

Animation software also allow syou to go back and edit everything from minute details to massive changes. Live action videos don’t allow for such changes – instead, you’ll have to re-shoot. This repeats the whole costly process! It is undoubtedly much better to use animation for this reason.

3. Quick and Easy to Update

Let’s build on that last point. A third benefit to using animations is that they’re an E-Learning object built to outlast live action video.

With real people and locations, it’s easy for live video to look dated. The reasons range from image quality to clothing styles. It’s also impossible to go back and update the video. Once you’ve captured the scene, unless you can get away with retroactive edits, that scene is permanent. You can’t change the dialogue or backdrops after it’s done.

On the other hand, cartoons will always look outside of time and space since they were never designed to be realistic in the first place, helping them to retain a modern look. Using software like Vyond, you can always open the original project file and quickly crop the scene, change a character’s movements, outfits, or even dialogue – especially if you use a text-to-speech option – or your own voice in the first place.

Popular cartoon characters Mario, Luigi and Yoshi pose for a photo.

Since animations can be updated quickly and easily, you can also re-purpose them more readily than live action productions. They can be used as stand alone E-Learning objects, reincorporated into other courses, added to a resource library, or even form the basis of an advertisement.

4. Freedom to Imagine

My favourite benefit of animation is that it lets you be imaginative at very little cost! Animation allows you and your characters to defy the laws of physics, time and space. Your characters can face the same situations that would otherwise require CGI or extensive makeup to create in live action videos.

For example, soft skills can be much more easily and cheaply showcased for medical scenarios using cartoons. In live action video, you’d have to do prepare elaborate makeup or use CGI for a character with wounds or other symptoms, and likely pay for a hospital set.

5. Better Tone

Just like on TV, where cartoon characters are used for adult comedy that would be unpalatable with live action actors, cartoons can soften the tone of tough scenarios for your learners. Cartoons constantly remind the audience that the scenarios and characters are fictional and likely exaggerated for training purposes. That makes it easier to have unlikable characters, or really sensitive scenarios. Plus, cartoons automatically add an element of whimsy that engages learners, even when the content is paper dry. This can be very helpful for compliance-based training because it injects a bit of fun and lightheartedness into a mandatory activity.

Are there other reasons you can think of for using animation in E-Learning?

Please share with us in the comments section below.

If you’d like to learn more about my own E-Learning projects where I use animation, check out this page on Intrepid Emma E-Learning Productions.

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About the Author

Emma Givens

Emma Givens is the Founder and CEO of EG: Content & Copy. She’s a brand messaging strategist, copywriter and writing coach with 10+ years of experience. She specializes in serving premium SMBs (Small and Medium-sized Businesses).

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