I’ll be honest: I haven’t always been the biggest fan of using characters in eLearning. I used to think of them as meaningless and cheesy. Whether you love them or hate them, characters have been used in eLearning for many years to tell stories, help create a sense of personality, and bring learning scenarios to life. Over the years, I’ve realized my issues with using characters in eLearning had nothing to do with the characters themselves—it was about how they were used.
Too often, characters are used in an eLearning course as a meaningless embellishment—a graphic to fill space when no other image can be found. This doesn’t make for positive eLearning experiences for your learners.
Does this mean you need to stop using characters in eLearning? Not all! You just need to change the way you use them. Here are three tips for using characters in eLearning.
Incorporate Them into the Story
One of the easiest ways to use characters in eLearning isn’t necessarily about how you display them on the screen, but how you incorporate them into the learning content. One of the biggest uphill battles you face when designing effective eLearning content is learner engagement. How do you create content that draws your learners in and holds their attention?
To accomplish this, try designing your course content around a narrative, story, or scenario. Once you’ve done this, you can then use characters to represent the different players within that story. Rather than your characters being a meaningless graphic, incorporating them into the story makes them part of the learning. It’s also helpful to give your characters names and titles.
Use Different Poses & Facial Expressions
Even after incorporating characters into your eLearning content using stories or scenarios, you avoid using a character with a single pose and/or facial expression. Once your learners have seen several slides with the same character, the same pose, and the same expression, they’ll quickly disengage with the character altogether.
The good news is: this is easy to accomplish. Regardless of where you get your characters, look for character packs that offer a variety of poses and expressions. Depending on how your story or scenario progresses, consider having your character(s) change and respond to the narrative.
Use More Than One Character
As important as it is to give variety to the poses and expressions of your characters, it’s also important to have variety in the number of characters you use. Using characters in eLearning helps your learners connect with the content you’re presenting. If you’re telling a story or presenting a scenario, characters can help your learners see themselves in the same situations. However, this only works when the characters are representative of and relatable to your learners.
Accomplish this by using a set of characters that represents a diversity of ages, ethnicities, and genders.
The Bottom Line
Using characters in eLearning doesn’t have to be boring, meaningless, or cheesy. When used properly, characters can help bring your content to life and help your learners engage and relate to your content like never before.
How do you use characters in eLearning? Share your tips by commenting below.