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eLearning Gets Animated

Every time I program an eLearning module, I am always concerned about how to present the content in an interesting way. I want to retain the attention of the viewer who may be required to complete the module at the behest of their employer and is not always enthusiastic about doing so.

Articulate Storyline includes a number of fun activities which can liven up your presentation and add interest through the use of interaction and gamification. Even static content such as text or bulleted lists can be livened up by using various transitions and entry/exit animations. However, the list of tricks gets quickly exhausted. There are only so many ways a text can fly in before it starts getting annoying rather than interesting. What do you do then?

Although Storyline is not exactly an animation software, it allows you to import Flash movies. Flash is a decent animation software, in my opinion, but I rarely use it by itself. For me, Flash is a bridge to even greater things! Flash allows me to import an image sequence and assemble it into a Flash movie, which can then be imported into Storyline.

So, what kind of image sequences are we talking about? And why is this so important to our eLearning modules? It’s all about 3D animation! Whereas 2D animated effects, transitions and motion paths add some interest to the eLearning module, a 3D animated effect blows it right out of the water!

Let’s consider, for example, a click-and-reveal activity. The viewer sees a number of face-down cards, and clicking on them reveals what’s on the other side. A simple cut to the content doesn’t look very interesting. There are some page-flip scripts for Flash which “fake” the turning of the card in 2D, but none of them look too impressive. I wanted the card to bend, to cast a shadow, to really pop out of the page!

I created my card flip animation in Maya, a top-notch 3D animation software. I rendered out the animation as a sequence of images which I then imported into Flash and compiled into a Flash movie. Said movie was imported into Storyline, and the click-and-reveal activity suddenly gained a whole new dimension!

It is easy to change the size and material of the front and back faces of the card. The animation became so popular that our team continues to use the flip-card in almost every eLearning module since. The flip-card was just the beginning! Since then we added a number of other 3D animations to our bag of tricks to entice the viewer. For example, we have a jigsaw puzzle that assembles itself, presenting any image we want in the completed form.

With the ability to bring in 3D animated content into Storyline, our Pathways Training and eLearning team has opened up endless possibilities. We have increased the dimension of eLearning modules to include content that is interesting, attention catching, and different. With a bit of imagination, lots of dedication and plenty of extra effort, we make the eLearning experience more exciting and content easier to digest - even for the least interested user.

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