Today, many adults watch cartoons and play video games. We began in our childhood and never quite grew out of it. But while the colors and curves in animated characters remain unchanged, their thematic content is drastically different for adults. Lots of kids still watch this content, oblivious. But even in the most child-facing cartoons, you’ll catch a few jokes clearly intended for their resident adults. In online courses, you can take a more targeted approach. Give your characters as much pizazz and style as your budget allows. But make sure not to liven them up so much that they steal the focus away from the training topic. Here are the top dos and don’ts for using animated video characters in online training.
1. Do A Story-Based Animation
The plotline is underrated, especially because in modern entertainment you can hide it behind the flash, bang, and stylish design. However, in a training scenario, having an actual narrative thread is essential. It makes the material more memorable. Your animated character is an “assistant” that pops up on demand. Or it could be a video sequence or a simulated exercise. Either way, build a tale. Your pop-up assistant should have a bio and backstory, as well as a distinct personality and skillset. Storyboard your animated sequences to plug plot holes. That said, he/she shouldn’t be so dynamic that they steal the spotlight. Give them depth so that employees emotionally connect, but keep it relevant to the compliance training topic.
2. Don’t Overpopulate
As you develop your characters, remember this is an educational enterprise, not Second Life. Don’t overcomplicate the narrative. Keep it smooth, simple, and preferably linear. This helps learners focus on training material rather than entertainment value. You want the course to be fun enough to keep them engaged but not so playful that they forget to learn. Introduce one character at a time, and don’t have too many. Each character should have a single-story arc with no extraneous bit players, pun intended. Don’t clutter the course with cartoons.
3. Do The Shortest Version
There’s a lot of data on our increasingly short attention spans. Your online training animation sequences should keep that in mind. The easiest way to establish this is to keep animated videos to two minutes or less. But sometimes you need more room to maneuver. In such cases, intersperse the cartoon with jump-start portions. It could be a joke, a dance sequence, a flashback, or a surprise event. These will jolt drifting trainees back to attention. Don’t overuse them though, or they will soon lose their effect.
4. Don’t Neglect Dialogue
Simple doesn’t have to mean boring. Even if your animated video characters are built from 2D stick figures, they can make an impact. And while you can skimp on the animation process itself, don’t undershoot your writing. Bring in professionals and have them craft natural, conversational dialogue. You don’t want your characters to sound like they’re reciting the office policy manual verbatim. Keep them chatty so their verbal content is easier to recall. Look at it this way. You can probably quote your favorite movie monologue word-for-word. But you can barely remember the National Anthem or the preface to the last novel you read. Keep your characters’ conversations pithy, fun, and human.
5. Do A Proper Soundtrack And Don’t Neglect Emotions
What cartoons did you watch as a kid? There must have been at least one of those shorts, with quick action sequences, dramatic music, and no words. And you probably have a sharper recall of that animated short than the best-written episode of *insert current favorite*. Why? It bypassed your verbal neurons and used music, pace, and visual narrative to reach your subliminal centers of sentiment. Apply this principle to develop the right ambient music. Use them in combination with a conversation, recognizing that background sound sometimes overwrites the effect of words themselves.
6. Don’t Create Animated Video Character Experts
You’re developing compliance training animated video characters to liven up your course and help employees form a connection. And expert know-it-alls simply aren’t going to resonate with them. They need cartoon characters who speak to them on their level and help them emotionally engage, not talk down to them and make them feel less-than or judged. Ideally, the characters should strike a balance between SME and colleague. They must be knowledgeable about compliance rules and regulations, but still be able to articulate them in a way that employees understand.
7. Do Utilize Them In Real-World Activities
Animated video characters aren’t just reserved for demos, videos, and guides. They can also be valuable additions to your simulations and serious games. This provides employees with a seamless training experience that includes the same characters they’ve grown accustomed to instead of introducing them to brand new characters with brand-new backstories. Employees are able to interact with these personas in a more meaningful way, as well. For example, practice their COI compliance training on their animated character who can highlight areas for improvement.
To some, cartoons are a convenient way to distract the kids. For others, it’s a chance to relive our childhood or celebrate our expanded definition of maturity. In the eLearning sphere, animation is a suitable training tool, but only if you use it right. Base your cartoons on a solid storyline that caters to limited attention spans. Employ ambient sound to create the right mood. Restrict your characters to essential roles; no extras, keeping your cartoon concise. Write good dialogue and craft content that appeals to the emotions of your employees.
Does your current authoring tool allow you to craft memorable animated video characters? If not, use our online directory to research top authoring software and expand your eLearning toolbox.