How To Create Characters In eLearning
It's a proven fact that emotionally compelling eLearning courses are highly successful. And one of the most effective ways to transform a boring or dry eLearning course into one that is immersive and engaging is the utilization of a character. Whether you are designing a deliverable intended for a tenth grade science class or a group of experienced physicians, characters can ALWAYS add a touch of realism and relatability to an eLearning experience.
- Create a character profile and a script.
Before you begin integrating characters in eLearning, you'll want to have a detailed idea of exactly who the character is going to be and how it will deliver (or interact with) the subject matter effectively. To do this, you can create a profile that highlights the personality traits, mannerisms, tone, and even the back story of your character. You'll also need to write out a script ahead of time, so that you can ensure that you've integrated all the important lesson points of the eLearning course. If you aren't willing or ready to write your own script, you may want to get some help from a subject matter expert or a professional content writer who specializes in your niche. Just bear in mind that you don't have to include all aspects of your character's profile into the eLearning course, this is just a planning tool that can help you moving forward.
- Decide which role your character is going to play.
There are a variety of roles that an eLearning character can play. They can be the narrator or the guide if you're trying to walk your learners through the eLearning course in an entertaining or engaging way, or they can be the one who poses questions that your learner may want to ponder throughout a module. You can also have them point out tips that might help the learners to more effectively acquire information or develop skill sets. Whatever the case may be, you should have a clearly defined idea of what purpose your character is going to serve. By giving them a set role, you can help to ensure that they serve the primary learning goal rather than serve as an unnecessary distraction.
- Choose your character image wisely
Characters in eLearning courses can be depicted in photos, cartoons, or even be live actors, in the case of videos or webinars. If you are using an image, you'll want to choose very wisely, as this can either determine the eLearning course’s success in many respects. For example, if you're including a character that is dressed in jeans and a t-shirt and has a rather disheveled appearance, this would probably not be the ideal image for a business man who is supposed to be organized, polished, and confident. Beyond that, you'll want to opt for images that are of high quality and, of course, appropriate for your target audience.
- Research your audience to fine tune your character's dialogue and personality.
One of the most invaluable tips for how to use characters in eLearning is to find out as much as possible about your audience. Do some research to pinpoint any jargon that you should include, the tone you may want to convey, and any other important dialogue points that should be considered. Try to survey your audience, or even observe them on the job, so that you can get an accurate sense of what your character's personality should be in order to improve relatability with your learners. Figure out if there are any stereotypical personality types within their industry that you can integrate into your character's profile. For example, if you are trying to create an antagonist for your eLearning course, you can incorporate various negative personality traits that your specific audience may be familiar with. This makes the character recognizable and helps the learner to connect with the subject matter in a more meaningful way.
- Make audio realistic and relevant.
If you are including audio in your eLearning course, such as character dialogue or narration, you'll want to make it as realistic and relevant as possible. Have the character use language that is natural and fitting for the environment. Don't go off into tangents that will only distract the learner from the key pieces of information they need to acquire. If at all possible, enlist the services of a professional voice over actor who can narrate scenes for you or play the part of the eLearning character, as this will make your eLearning course more believable, and therefore more powerful.
- Opt for several different images featuring the same character.
Rather than using just one image to visually represent your character, why not use a handful of images that feature the same character in order to enhance the realism of your eLearning course. Often, having several images on hand that depict different emotions or poses is ideal, given that you can accurately portray your character in different scenarios or scenes. You can also use photo editing software to create close ups of your character or to highlight different aspects of the image, such as cropping the photo to give up an close look at their hands during a task or zooming in on one particular character that's featured in the photo.
The important thing to keep in mind when developing and integrating eLearning characters is that they must add value to the learning experience, rather than distract the learner from the overall objective or subject matter. By using these tips you can ensure that your character serves the learning goal, rather than stealing the spotlight.