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One of the biggest pieces of advice we have for instructional designers is to make ‘em laugh.

GIF from the "Make 'Em Laugh" musical scene in the movie Singin' in the Rain.

Bringing levity to the learning experience is so important that we included it as one of our 25 essential tips for making an instructional video.

While it’s easy for everyone to see the value of humor in eLearning, it’s hard to find good examples. When we saw what Matt Heinze and his team at Kasasa were creating with Vyond, we knew we wanted to share it.

Watch some of their witty videos below, and read on to hear how Kasasa brings humor to its training videos:

A Q+A with Matt Heinze

What kind of work do you do at Kasasa?

As a whole, Kasasa is a fin-tech company that provides financial products and services to small, community-based banks and credit unions. We help them compete and “win the war” against the big megabanks.

As for me, I’m a senior instructional designer on a team that mainly creates training, and support materials for frontline, back-office, and leadership of these institutions. Our instructional design team is part of a larger team that consults with our clients to optimize their performance.

When an institution partners with Kasasa, they don’t just get our products and we walk away. We’re with them through the long haul and give them the tools and guidance to be their best.

What was the first video you created with Vyond?

The first videos I made were joke-y experiments that I would share with my team to get some laughter going. At the same time I was trying to get the hang of the tool and its capabilities. My first real video ended up being a scene for Episode 101 of our video series, Rewardsville.

How have your videos changed since you first started?

It’s been almost two years since we started producing the Rewardsville series. From a technical perspective, I’d say I’ve found ways to move the camera more. I try not to stay too static if possible.

I also try to get more coverage. I’ll do a scene one way, and then at the end I’ll redo clips from different angles, like close-up reaction shots of different characters. Then when I pull all the scenes over to Adobe Premiere, I decide which to use.

I also redo all of the audio in Premiere when I pull the scenes over. I do the sound editing/mixing in Premiere, adding a ton of sound effects and music during that stage. From a creative perspective, three seasons is a lot of seat time for learners. We want them engaged.

The libraries of props, actions, and backgrounds in Vyond are extensive and I love coming across something wacky and thinking “how can I incorporate this into this story about people working at a financial institution?” We’ve tried to do things that are a little out there that will grab the learners’ attention, like have a character lost in the Patagonian Mountains, train a cat to be an evil megabank spy, or introduce lost treasure folklore into the town’s history.

Humor seems to play a big role in Rewardsville. What would you say to instructional designers who are more tentative about using humor at work?

Oh boy! This could be a very long answer! Here are a few tips:

Don’t be afraid.

If you have an idea to make learners laugh, explore it. The reward is SO high. The scenario/lesson becomes WAY more memorable. Sure a few people may not like it, but MANY more of them would not like it if you shared boring standard content instead. If you have the freedom, don’t be boring and standard.

Are you going to remember a lesson detail because it was in a bullet on slide 44 or are you going to remember it because your favorite character figured it out and turned it into a catchy song?

Don’t create in a bubble.

Share your ideas with your peers, team, etc. and even get them involved in ideation. When you have more people involved, at least giving feedback or ideas, then you have that reassurance, “okay this is working.”

You don’t need to make people roll on the floor.

If you have people smiling as they watch, then you’re succeeding. You’re connecting in a positive emotional way.

And I should include a disclaimer that humor doesn’t work across all subject matter.

What challenges do you face when trying to engage learners with your training?

I think boredom is a big factor for all learning. “I’ve seen this same ol’ training” one may say before tuning out. The challenge there is giving them something fresh and unique. Vyond is a great tool for this.

Another big one is context. How can you best fit the lesson into a scenario-based manner?

Also, relatability: ”Oh that happens to me,” or “Oh that happened to my teammate a few times.” People relate to stories more than anything. That’s what Rewardsville is all about. We embed a couple learning objectives into one scenario-based storyline that gets a little silly, keeps your attention, and is memorable. We have many different characters that learners can relate to or call their favorite. And we hear about that in feedback. We have our characters fumble and make mistakes and become successful heroes at different points throughout.

We also take this to another level by introducing interactive Storyline 360 pieces throughout a season where you make choices for the characters or judge their performance based on what you learn. I think Vyond’s Business Friendly style really helps us achieve that story-based, light, inventive approach. It makes many of our crazy ideas possible.

Have you gotten any feedback from learners on these videos?

Yes! We released Season 1 in Fall of 2020. Season 2 came out in early 2021. Since then, learners have been able to give star ratings (1-5) and add comments to each episode. At the end of the season after the final exam, they’re given an NPS question.

Across Season 1 and 2, the average star-rating per episode/activity is 4.8-4.9 out of over 5000 episode/activity completions.

Our NPS score for Season 1 so far is 91 and for Season 2 it’s currently 94.

Some random, favorite comments include:

  • “Gold medal show”
  • “Cute and funny! 🙂 Yes, great reminders for how to be successful with Kasasa!”
  • “Entertaining – fun way to learn.”
  • “Great, engaging content. Enjoyed seeing how things can go wrong in branch and what we can do to be more mindful of our customer’s needs.”

Your videos recently got some impressive external recognition, right?

Yes! We submitted Season 1 to the Communicator Awards late in 2020 and they recently announced winners. We got an Award of Distinction in the category of Online Video Campaign or Series – Web Series. We’re hoping to submit the project for other instructional design and media awards now that we have a lot of positive learner feedback to point to.

Make award-winning instructional videos.

With Vyond, it’s easy to make media that moves. Our online animation platform is perfect for instructional designers looking to unleash their creativity. With Vyond Studio’s powerful-but-easy customization features, you can create your own characters, build engaging stories, and make learners laugh. Start creating award-winning training videos with a 14-day free trial.

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