Whiteboard Animations in e-Learning: It’s short and sweet!

Posted on : January 8th, 2014

Whiteboard Animations in e-LearningWith advancement in technology, e-learning developers are on a constant mission to make e-content suitable for the tech-savvy learners of today. Especially in the corporate world, learners can access e-courses through a variety of devices – laptops, mobiles, tablets or smartphones. They also have easy and constant internet connectivity – which opens the avenue to deliver media-rich content that has a strong impact on the learner.

There is a lot that can be done in terms of a suitable media strategy for your e-course. A popular and affordable option is that of Whiteboard Animation. It is a known fact that videos are a powerful tool in training as they can grab the learners’ attention instantly. On the downside, videos are not easy to create – at least the ones that have a lasting effect on the learners. You need good actors, appropriate settings, lighting – the works. When you need to create a video that illustrates an idea or concept in an innovative manner, whiteboard animations are the quick fix!

Whiteboard animations are videos that ‘show’ the learner an idea or concept through a series of live drawings. There is often a ‘hand’ that draws inside a screen that is the ‘whiteboard’. The familiar image of the teacher’s hand writing or drawing on the whiteboard finds instant connect with learners of all ages.

So what goes into creating an impactful whiteboard animation?

  • A solid script: That’s where you begin. Yout script must identify the core learning that you wish to share – and also put it in crisp, succulent terms. Keep in mind that the animation should ideally have minimal text, so use words judicially. Your script should also define how long your video will be, and it should set the pace of image-transitions on the video.
  • A suitable flow: Ideally, a whiteboard animation should have a distinct beginning, middle and end – like in a story. This flow works wonders in helping the learners understand the issue or concept being taught and how it affects their work lives. Typically, whiteboard animations are short (anywhere from 60 seconds to 5 minutes) and the flow needs to be smooth.
  • Powerful imagery: Illustrations and images are the backbone of a whiteboard animation video. Creating suitable images and illustrations might take time, but it is time well-spent. In the absence of words, your powerful imagery will be able to make an instant connect with the audience. Illustrations should be developed keeping the audience profile and their cultural or social predispositions in mind. Since the illustrations are either hand drawn or computer generated, they can be tweaked and reworked upon as per the need.
  • Accompanying audio: Audio is an important accompaniment to the illustrations in a whiteboard animation. In the absence of on-screen text, voice -over describes the ideas and concept in detail. The voice over is developed as per the nature of the animation video and is successful in ‘humanizing’ the e-content.
  • Background music: Music and sound effects are powerful tools to jazz up the video and create greater impact. They help in creating realistic scenarios even when the scene presented before the learner is an illustration. For instance, even if it is an animated illustration of a door opening – the accompanying ‘creak’ will help the learner perceive it as real.

 A few years ago, the process of creating a whiteboard animation was long-drawn and tedious. The popular way was to actually take a video of a hand drawing on a whiteboard and then fast-pace it to make it look ‘animated’. Nowadays the process is much simpler and easier. Using popular graphics software like Flash, Photoshop or Illustrator, it is possible to draw illustrations. Animation software like VideoScribe can then create a hand-animation effect and produce the video in MP4 format. This can then be uploaded on a video-sharing platform like YouTube, your company website – or even the organization LMS – for learners to view.

Whiteboard animations have a number of benefits, especially in corporate training and learning.

  • They can be a great marketing tool for your organization. If you are introducing a new process in the organization, your greatest worry is change management. Whiteboard animations can generate interest in a new process or tool within the organization. They are short and crisp – taking up very little time of the viewer. They are also informal, encouraging the viewers to ‘try and see’.
  • They can also provide suitable refreshers to accompany text-heavy courses. Encapsulating the crux of the course, they can help the learner revise and refresh as per need. This makes the information more palatable and easier to consume as well as retain.
  • Complex processes (like the working of machinery, assembling of parts, and so on) can be broken down and illustrated with the help of whiteboard animations. Unlike static images, these ‘how-to’ videos help the learners ‘see’ how things work and understand the processes better.
  • For products that are being built, whiteboard animations can be utilized to create impactful demos. When real pictures are difficult to get, illustrations or drawings can suitably represent the products to the learners through animation.
  • Whiteboard animations are ‘in’ and quite the flavor of the times! So they also help in differentiating your course from the run-of-the- mill variety. A short animation video before the beginning of a course can instill curiosity for the learner to know more. A crisp animation on your website may get you more hits than all the impactful text you can create.
  • With an informal approach, these animations can help boost the morale of a team by highlighting organizational beliefs, goals and achievements. The animated illustrations dispel the usual seriousness that often accompanies such discourses.

Whiteboard animations are fast gaining popularity as an impactful tool for learning delivery in technology-aided learning. Being short and crisp, they align very well to the needs of the modern corporate learner. Of course, for certain learning needs, they can never be as effective as videos with real people and actual settings – for instance, when you need to show actual people doing a particular job, or when you need more depth in your video.

Here is a glimpse of what we are talking about: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-ucn2JgXdk. If you like what you see – then Whiteboard Animation is definitely the solution for you!


Arunima Majumdar

Arunima is an e-learning blogger and likes discussing innovations in training & learning for the new-age corporate sector.

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