Adding Animated Video to Online Training is Easier Than You Think

If we all could, we would love to use more video in our online training courses. Most of us wish we had a nice studio, great recording equipment, and a team of production experts standing by to produce videos for all of our courses. Sadly, we rarely have the budgets to support such operations, even though research shows that video can improve learning satisfaction and learning outcomes.

The problem is that video production is expensive, time consuming, and requires expertise, which is a significant barrier that prohibits video from making it into most eLearning courses. The good news is that there are tools out there that can make it easier to create simple, animated videos that can improve the quality of your eLearning. Tools like Powtoon, GoAnimate, and Tellagami work mostly with computer equipment you already have and come with templates that make creating animated video very doable.

As easy as these tools make it to create video for eLearning courses, if you have not done much video, it is difficult to imagine how to get started. I thought I would share three simple ways to get started using animated video in your eLearning courses.

Introduce each section with a character

One great way to get started using animated video is to use one of the services above and create a single character that can do a simple narration of a course. Use the character to introduce the course and each section. Instead of doing a normal, boring learning objectives slide at the beginning of a course, you could have an animated character say, “Hello! This is Denise, and I am here to introduce our new eLearning course on how to handling difficult customers who escalate issues. In this course, you will learn…”

This simple technique will impress your audience (and your boss) and will add some entertainment value, which most eLearning needs. If you have never used video before, I recommend starting with this technique.

Set up the use case for each section

Another way to use animated videos in eLearning is to introduce each section of a course with a specific real work task that must be learned. Use video to show that learners will learn something practical. In other words, you do not want to just describe what function is going to be taught. For example: “In this section, you will learn to edit a customer profile in the Accounts tab.”


Using an animated video character, you can narrate something like this: “One of the most frequent calls I get from customers is how to change an address, so I want to know what I am doing so these calls can be efficient and easy for our customers.”

Video can make this approach more personal and more useful by focusing on the task to be performed.

Simple scenarios

You can take the use of animated video one step further by creating short, scenarios and building on a topic throughout a lesson. This can be particularly useful for training on any type of conversation. For example, conducting a performance review, handling a difficult conversation with a customer, or in sexual harassment training.

Create several short videos of examples of how a conversation would go if one applies the technique learned in the class. This requires some planning and good script writing, but can be very effective in showing a learner how to apply the concept taught in the course.

Start small and build into it

With any of the ideas above, you can make them as simple or as complicated as you want. The good news is that with tools like Powtoon, Goanimate, and Tellagam, the easy part is creating the animated video. I suggest starting simple and create a single character to introduce a new eLearning course. Get used to one of the tools. What’s even better is that you can probably create your first video using the free trial, and it won’t cost you anything to get started.

Once you show your video eLearning introduction, your audience will wonder how you did it and tell you they want more eLearning like that.

Have you used animated video in your eLearning courses? How has is worked for you?

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Bill Cushard, authorblogger, and learning experience (LX) designer, is a human performance technologist (HPT) with extensive, in-the-trenches experience building learning organizations at companies like E*TRADEAccenture, and ServiceRocket. You can follow him on Twitter or on Google+

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