As an elearning developer at Endurance Learning, I am often hopping in and out of project files to update them, make edits, or add something to the module. Sometimes I am very familiar with the content or have been the initial developer on the project. At other times, I am jumping into totally unfamiliar territory, like using animation in elearning. On those occasions it can be a little disorienting to figure out the context of the slide, what the general theme of the module is, or how to make adjustments within the content. However, one major benefit to this is that I have the opportunity to deconstruct content or interactions and really take a look at how it was created.
When starting to learn how to use tools for elearning development, I would often watch LinkedIn Learning or YouTube videos about how to do something specific. But now that I’ve spent more time in elearning development and have had the opportunity to see the way more modules are built, I understand how much can be learned by deconstructing a file. I have found that there is a lot of value in taking a complex file and breaking it down to think about visual design and object placement on the screen, use of animation to draw learner attention or emphasize a point, or the way an interaction was built that made it easy (or more difficult) to adjust later on. Part of growing as an elearning developer is taking time to dig deeper into how something was designed, how it works, or how it could be improved upon to work more efficiently the next time it is created. One of the more visually appealing files that I deconstructed was built by one of my colleagues, Lindsay Garcia, to look like a pixelated video game. It was interesting to work on this file because upon first glance at the screen, it looked like a mess!
However, the combination of videos, animations, and timed content on the screen came together to present a unique experience for the learner. Here are a few things I noted about animations from deconstructing this file:
Animations in Elearning Should Drive Attention
Every animation should be well thought out to support the content of the module, and direct the attention of the learner. Animations can either grab the attention of the learner and help them to focus on important information, or distract them from it. In the case of this interaction, the animation pushes the narrative forward as we follow the path of the “hero” and are given a clear picture of who to go to to gain more information.
Use Video for Depth and Movement
Adding a video background can introduce depth and movement to an otherwise stagnant screen. While the information presented on this screen could have been animated on screen without movement in the background, this type of background animation helped to advance the character from one point to another.
Subtle Animations in Elearning May be the Best Choice
Sometimes it’s not always clear what to do next without explicit instructions. In this case, adding a small circular motion pathway to the question mark draws the learner’s attention to what to click on next to support the direction given on screen.
Animation Should Reduce Cognitive Load, not Increase It
If there is not a purpose behind an animation, it should not be added in because it can distract from learning and draw attention away from the content on the slide. In the case of this slide, animation adds to the style of the module, but also allows the learner to view text timed with voice over and see how to move on only when prompted to do so.
Many lessons can be learned from deconstructing files, and in this case, my focus was looking through the way the animations were placed, timed, and selected to appropriately deliver the content and story for the learner.