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Everyone learns differently. Some prefer reading, while others prefer auditory or visual experiences. eLearning gives educators, be they brands, individual teachers, or corporate trainers, the opportunity to deliver training and learning materials that cater to the learner’s preferences.

But reaching visual or auditory learners, as well as those who prefer a certain type of learning, can still be difficult or expensive, that is, unless you create your own eLearning animation.

Why Use Animations in eLearning

As previously mentioned, not everyone learns the same. Everyone has a style they prefer: One study of medical students has shown that 33% of people learn visually, while 26% learn through audio. Animation allows you to capture that 33%, while audio taps into the other 26%.

Essentially, when animation is used properly and in conjunction with audio, you can reach at least 59% of learners. But the perks of eLearning animation don’t stop there:

  • Animation is captivating, more so than static images. Effective animation can grip your audience from the get-go and pull them into the eLearning lesson.
  • It can be easier to explain complex topics when using animation. For example, abstract concepts can be easier to explain using animation along with text.
  • Animations allow you to break up dense subject matter with fun clips or engaging animated charts and graphs. It’s easy for your audience to get lost in dense subject matter, especially if the eLearning lesson is lengthy. Animation can act as a breather while educating them on the topic.

You can customize and use animation in countless ways, so the above perks are only scratching the surface. There are likely still undiscovered ways in which animation can enhance the eLearning process!

When to Use eLearning Animation

You can use eLearning animation in a number of ways. Two primary ways you can use animation are with audio and without. Animations with audio offer a complete educational experience, while animations without audio are great substitutes for static charts or graphs.

This isn’t to say you should always use animations with audio, though. There are times when an animation without audio makes more sense.

  • If you have budget constraints, animation without audio, especially voiceover audio, will likely be easier and less expensive to make. This is also the case if you’re strapped for time since you can create animation without audio faster. For example, the below video explains an app without using any audio beyond the free stock music from Vyond.

  • If you’re only using animation to show a graph in motion or illustrate a concept with text, avoiding audio is a good idea. This allows the learner to focus on the image and text and avoid feeling overwhelmed. For example, the GIF below visualizes data which might otherwise be presented in an Excel spreadsheet.

While there are times to use animation without audio, there are also times when animations with audio truly shine.

  • If you have a complex subject or concept, use animation with audio to guide the learner through the subject. This will tap into both of the learning styles mentioned earlier and allow the learner to focus on the material. Take the below video, for example, in which the complex topic of psychology and human behavior is tackled effectively in just minutes.

  • Use animation with audio when telling a story to deliver a more evocative learning experience. This is especially true when telling any kind of customer- or person-oriented story, as a video can illustrate a scenario far better than text can. For example, the below video on perfecting your pitch uses characters and narration to show how the scenario can actually play out.

The above examples are only a few cases, but there are numerous instances where animation can enhance the eLearning experience. As a general rule-of-thumb, if the animation will enhance rather than detract from the experience, it’s likely worth pursuing.

But before moving forward with the animation, think about how the current course already looks and if the animation would be too much or if it would make the content even easier to digest.

3 Tips to Use Animations in eLearning

While animation can make eLearning more effective and simplify your instructional design process, it has to be used properly. This means knowing when to use animation, how to use animation, and what kinds of animations to use.

Using animations incorrectly can actually damage the user experience: busy animations can detract from the lesson, too much text in animation can confuse viewers, and so on. Not to mention, creating an animation that isn’t useful is simply a waste of time, money, and resources.

To increase the chances your animation helps your eLearning experience, consider the following tips.

Animate with Purpose

Make sure your animations have a purpose before you create them. Don’t just use eLearning animation for the sake of it. This can be distracting rather than helpful.

Instead, think about the concept you’re trying to get across and how an animation could help accomplish that. If an animation feels unnecessary, it likely is.

For a great example of animation with a purpose, see the below video in which the idea of electric cars is examined in a video. While the concept could have been explained without animation, the animation sets the cars in motion and makes the entire topic more captivating.

Follow Design Best Practices

While animations are in motion, they’re still pieces of design. Follow design best practices to ensure your animations are received well by audiences. Some key best practices to follow are:

  1. Stick to your branding: Animations should be branded in a way that makes them recognizable, just like any other content you create.
  2. Don’t overdo the animation: It’s easy to get carried away when animating. This can result in too many moving pieces and confuse and overwhelm your audience. Instead, animate only what’s necessary to get the point across while leaving other parts static.
  3. Be aware of easing: Animated objects should follow the principles of easing, in that the object moving should accelerate and decelerate in a consistent manner. Objects in the real world take time to accelerate, so don’t have animated objects immediately moving at full speed. Instead, have them ease into motion.

The above tips will help you get started on the right foot with design. When in doubt, consult with your company designer, if you have one in-house. If your company doesn’t have a designer on hand, you could also consider hiring a freelance designer to audit your animations once they’re complete.

For inspiration and an example of these best practices in motion, see the below video from the Texas Bank and Trust in which branding is displayed clearly, animation is minimal, and easing is used on each set piece that moves. 

Avoid Overwhelming Viewers

As we mentioned, animations should be easy to interpret and add to the experience rather than detract or overwhelm. To accomplish this, avoid using excessive amounts of copy, don’t have numerous animations on a single slide or screen, and make sure the pacing of the animation is slow enough to comprehend and read.

For a great example of this, watch the below video from the South Carolina Public Employee Benefit Authority in which two dental insurance plans are explained. This topic is generally complex and overwhelming, but the video makes it easy to see the differences by using characters, animated charts, and text.

Creating Effective eLearning Animations

Making animations used to be a time-consuming task that involved an entire team of designers and animators. In some cases, creating an animation could take weeks or even months and cost thousands of dollars. Now, you can create it yourself, in a fraction of the time, with a single piece of software for one monthly or annual price.

Modern software makes animation possible, even for those with no design experience. For example, Vyond features a library of characters and backgrounds, all of which can be customized to fit any audience. The characters, templates, and assets can all be animated with ease using an intuitive interface that allows for a full range of motion.

Vyond animation screenshot for use in eLearning platforms

You can also use Vyond animations in a wide variety of eLearning platforms as Vyond videos can be exported as MP4s or GIFs, which make them versatile and easy to use anywhere. This means you won’t have to leave your existing eLearning course platform. You can also upload any animations to YouTube or use them on your own site for promotional and educational purposes.

To see how easy it is to create effective animations, try Vyond for yourself with a free 14-day trial.

A More Effective Way to Educate

Your audience likely contains a wide variety of learners. Reach as many as possible by integrating animations into your eLearning courses. Whether you’re educating for a living or using eLearning to promote your products, animations can make your courses more effective and help your brand in the long run.

The days of dull eLearning courses are behind us. With the many tools available, creating effective eLearning animation has never been easier. Put on your creative cap and let your imagination run wild. Your audience, and your brand, will thank you.