Monthly Archives: May 2016

Go animate your eLearning, part #2

I am an enthusiastic singer. I practically never miss the weekly practice with my vocal group. We do everything: Eurovision, pop, rock, you name it. Here is a video project I created for fun to advertise our upcoming auditions. The topic? How addictive singing really is.


Although this was a project made purely for fun, the elements and the design process were mostly the same as when designing an instructional video. Adding to my previous post on video animation I wanted to add a few points to ensure the core message of your video comes out crystal clear.

  1. What’s your goal?

What do you want the audience to do after viewing your video? Since I focus on learning outcomes, I focus on the fact that after the video, the audience should have the skills and be willing and committed to do whatever the learning goal is (highlighting the words willing and committed). Defining the goal like this helps you fight off any extra frill and bling-bling that you (or other stakeholders) might be tempted to add to the video.

2. Show a gun on screen only if there is an intention of using it on the video.

Chekhov famously said: One must not put a loaded rifle on the stage if no one is thinking of firing it. This is an important guideline even though we aren’t creating drama. Why? Because once you do this, you are better off expressing exactly the message you want to express and the users will focus on that. Another extremely good way to simplifying your message only needs to come through one channel: audio or visual. If you need to express that it is midnight, you don’t need to say it. Just show it. And: Include only the visual/audio elements you absolutely need to pull your message through. Don’t show the fact that it’s nighttime with both the moon in the sky AND a clock on the wall showing “3 am”, one of these is enough. After all, it was Chekhov who also said: “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”


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3. Create structure.

No matter how short your video is, it needs to have a basic structure. In longer videos (>1 min) you can use e.g. numbering or subheadings to help you structure the content.

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4. Humour is allowed 

But: be kind in your humour. The point of humour in instruction is again to make your content more memorable and engaging – be aware of stingy irony and profanity.

5. Add contradiction.

Adding contradiction is a basic means for creating complex characters in drama. But we are talking about 1-minute instructional videos – why would you want to care about contradiction? Because creating an contradiction is key to making your content interesting, which again is the essence of making something engaging and memorable. In other words, it helps you in your key goal: making people learn. Although we who create learning are not in marketing, we can continuously learn from there. Easy ways to create contradiction? Try having a voiceover that contradicts just a little bit with what the character does or says.



Go animate! Why? Because it’s easy

I bought GoAnimate inspired by two webinars: The first one was a wonderfully laid-back, hands-on presentation given by Melissa DeJesus from Lavastorm who gave a few great tips for using GoAnimate in a software training. Another spark of inspiration for my purchase was a demo given at the Learning Solutions Demofest by Rance Greene who has received multiple awards for his innovative eLearning projects.

GoAnimate is a cloud-based animated video creation platform. It has several different styles to choose from: 2D animation, whiteboard animation, infographics and – my absolute favourite, Common craft, i.e. this style:

Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 22.21.53You can download your video files as e.g. MP4s and export them directly to e.g. YouTube, Vimeo and Wistia. The basic functions of the tool are fairly easy to understand so you will learn by doing – as long as you let go of your pride first. You only need to spend a few moments in YouTube looking for inspiration from other GoAnimate users to discover that there are hundreds of teenagers who seem to have been born with video animation skills.

But: I don’t want to write detailed instructions here on how you use the tool. What I do want to express is: Be the Master, not the servant. The tool is so intuitive that it is extremely tempting to just start crafting videos straight away by testing all the available character libraries and functionalities. Well, why not? Because, like the famous travel photographer Peter Adams said: “A camera didn’t make a great picture anymore than a typewriter wrote a great novel.” Being able to use GoAnimate will not make you a good video designer. Instead, you need to take all the necessary steps of video creation even if your purpose is to create a 30-second clip to start off an eLearning exercise.

What do I mean by the necessary steps? At the minimum, the following:

  1. Define your audience.
  2. Define the core message of your video, i.e. one sentence that sums up the key idea of your video. Talk about this core message with your stakeholders. Rewrite the message based on your discussions.
  3. Write the script / storyboard (what I mean of course is: Write, cut, edit, rewrite, cut, edit, and so forth.)
  4. Measure the duration of your script. Cut, cut, cut even more if possible.

Step No. 5 may then be: Start creating the video with GoAnimate!

Good luck, and remember – you’re the Master!