Over the past two weeks, I have been experimenting with ways to create more entertaining eLearning tutorials. The belief is that entertaining training will hold people’s attention better and people will learn more. In fact, research tells us that this is true.
So, when I saw this piece in Training Magazine by Jeff Havens about how to create truly entertaining training, it got me thinking about some of the tools out there that can help you execute on Haven’s advice. Certainly tools are not the full answer to the problem of boring training, but tools can help. And since the tools below are easy to use and offer free trials, there is no excuse not to add them to your quiver of eLearning development tools.
What you produce with these tools can be added to your Mindflash courses to make them even more entertaining and engaging.
GoAnimate: If you do not have a full-time game animator at your company who sits around all day waiting for you to ask her to create a video for your eLearning course, then creating animated videos might not be a reasonable option. The good news is that GoAnimate is a great tool for creating animated videos, that even I can use.
It is easy, and the simplest way to start is to create a single character who introduces the topic of an existing eLearning course. GoAnimate videos that you create can be inserted into your Mindflash courses. Just watch some of the videos on the GoAnimate YouTube channel to see what can be done.
CodeBaby: Another tool that can help you create animated and entertaining characters in your eLearning courses is CodeBaby. You can create an online facilitator character who can facilitate, narrate, and otherwise walk your learners through your eLearning course acting as a guide to important lessons. You can create custom characters and then import them into your PowerPoint slides.
Non-Animated Character: If you do not want to create an animated character using one of the tools above, you can just create a fixed graphic of a character and use the audio function in Mindflash to record a voice for that character. This process is much simpler and easier to execute, but it does require that you write a decent enough script to bring the character to life. Even though it is not video, it is much better than an anonymous voice narrating a slide in a monotone voice.
The Real Trick is in the Script Writing
An example of the way to write for a character might look something like this: “When I first heard about going to this training, I thought ‘Ugh, not another boring compliance class.’ But then I thought, ‘You know what, some of this stuff (pointing to the list of learning objectives) does look useful.’ No matter what the topic, the point is to make it sound like a real person is speaking.
The tools above do make it easier to create entertaining eLearning courses, but you still have to create the character(s), and you still need to write the script. Script writing does take some practice, but if you concentrate on writing a narration that sounds like someone is simply having a conversation, you will be off to a great start.
How have you used characters in your eLearning courses? What lessons did you learn?
Bill Cushard, author, blogger, and learning experience (LX) designer, is a human performance technologist (HPT) with extensive, in-the-trenches experience building learning organizations in start-up and hyper-growth organizations like E*TRADE, the Knowland Group, and Accenture. You can follow him on Twitter or on Google+.