Albert Einstein famously said, “If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.” This quote is at the heart of teaching: whether your concept is theoretical physics or how to sell more product—break it down into simple, engaging components. How do you engage a six-year-old? A sixty-year-old? One way is through animation. Animation, when used thoughtfully and intentionally, is a powerful tool for teaching complex concepts in deceptively simple, engaging ways, whether your audience is six-years-old or sixty.
1. What is Animation in eLearning?
Animation is a process of creating the illusion of motion in objects that would normally be static, done for the purpose of telling a story or providing a moving visual to direct the audience’s attention. The history of animation in learning surprisingly dates back over 2000 years, most notably with Chinese and Indonesian shadow puppets, used to entertain and instruct through parables, fables, and cautionary tales.
In the 20th century, after the invention of animated film, video animation as an instructional tool was impossible for the lay educator, as it had to be hand-drawn and filmed. Until animation was aided by the home computer, most notably with MS PowerPoint in the early ‘90s, animation as a teaching tool was rare. PowerPoint made animation accessible to teachers and business people alike. Now we have multitudes of cloud-based, free or subscription-based applications, like Motion, Adobe After Effects, GoAnimate, PowToon, Prezi, VideoScribe, and ToonBoom. Animated videos in eLearning are used to explain a concept, market or sell a product by engaging and convincing, or to demonstrate a method in technical training.
An animation in eLearning is best used with intention and intelligence, as it can be distracting, overwhelming or superfluous if not used correctly. You don’t want to insert it solely to liven up an otherwise dull presentation, or when it complicates the subject matter rather than breaks it down. Below are reasons why we at ELM make use of video animation in your eLearning strategy:
- Help explain abstract concepts
- Engage the brain
- Bolster Retention
- Improve attitude towards training
- Make material relatable
- Emphasize visual metaphors
- Surprise and delight
3. Four Ways We Use Animation at eLearning Mind
At eLearning Mind, we create custom video animation internally, for our own initiatives and for our clients to grab attention, hold engagement, and help learners retain information.
- Explainer Videos: We create beautifully animated, branded videos for our clients, so they can show and tell their customers who they are and what they do.
- Marketing Videos: We call these “Hearts and Minds” videos, as they are designed to inspire internal and external stakeholders. We create animated videos to help different departments convey new ideas to employees, communicate tough messages that speak to their hearts and minds (particularly as a change management tool) and as intros for training (that we also create) so that they understand the need for the training and buy-in. We also create animated videos for our clients to help convey a message to their customers or explain how to use a product or service.
- Learning Videos: These are our custom-created learning solutions that combine visual storytelling and smart design to create sustained engagement, better recall, and dare we say, fun in each learning experience. These are what we do best.
- Tech Training: In technical training, it’s necessary to control and stage the environment in order to create specific scenarios. For this reason, an animation is the ideal visual representation for a technical process or methodology. With animated tech training videos, you can lead your audience through any type of scenario and precisely demonstrate objective outcomes.