Boing, Kaboom, Crack and Poof: E-Learning Motion Comics

Do you need a different, impactful way to deliver learning? Are some of your modules content-heavy? The solution may be motion comics, which enable you to deploy e-learning in a fun, new way.

What Are E-Learning Motion Comics? Humans have used sequenced pictures to tell stories since the days of the ancient Egyptians and Aztecs. The modern comic, upon which motion comics are based, evolved during the early 20th century with classic characters like Tintin, whose stories were jampacked with larger-than-life adventures and colorful characters. By the 1960s, American comic book creators had graduated to a new genre of popular magazine-format novels, featuring characters like Spider-Man and Dr. Strange, which became graphic novels. In the classic comic format, textual devices such as speech balloons, captions and onomatopoeia (“Boing!” “Kaboom!” “Crack!” “Poof!”) indicated dialogue, narration, sound effects and other information. As technology evolved, artists began creating motion comics, which combined print comics with animation, including sound effects and voice acting. How are comics and graphic novels relevant to learning, and how can you apply motion comics to enhance e-learning in the workplace? Consider the mechanics of comics and motion comics. They are a descriptive, visual medium used to convey information through the sequencing of images, combined with text and, sometimes, audio. Using the motion comic, it is easier to condense large amounts of information and, ultimately, create a fun and interactive learning experience.

The Benefits of Using Motion Comics in E-Learning One advantage of using motion comics for learning is the familiarity of the comic medium, which simplifies and improves the learning process. Then, there is the storytelling element, which increases intellectual and emotional engagement with the content. The motion comic is also effective because it presents only the essential information. By translating topics that would normally contain swaths of lengthy content into short visual stories, motion comics help keep learners’ interest and make learning more efficient. Furthermore, traditional comic sequencing not only builds a gripping storyline but also promotes understanding, instills meaning and triggers knowledge retention. After all, it is easier to remember information when the brain’s connections are reinforced by pictures, speech bubbles, sounds and action. The motion comic genre is not limited to simple concepts but is capable of fostering creative and high-level thought processes. In fact, more sophisticated comics combine images with text to express satire, symbolism, point of view, drama, puns and humor in ways that are often not possible with text alone.

Implementing Motion Comics in E-Learning You can teach almost any content with motion comics. The format accommodates content-heavy topics, because it separates them into easily consumed chapters. The nature of delivery also accommodates short e-learning interventions, drawing the user into a storyline with ease.

The process for motion comics is not too complicated, as it follows a simple success formula: storyline, plot sequence, characters and special effects.

One advantage of using motion comics for learning is the familiarity of the medium, which simplifies and improves learning.

The Storyline For any learning content to be memorable, it needs a good storyline. A good plot is even more essential with motion comics, because the design elements can easily overshadow the actual story or learning take-away. It is, therefore, important not only to focus on the design elements (the motion pictures) but also to develop a comprehensive script.

Key elements of a good script include ensuring that it:

  • Covers all the necessary content.
  • Is designed to transfer the requisite knowledge to the learner.
  • Tells a story that captivates and entertains.
  • Does not come across as cheap or rushed.

The Plot Sequence

One of the advantages of using comics in e-learning, is that they allow for the “batching” of content.

The important first batch is the introduction. As with any good story, setting the scene is vital. It must be attention-grabbing. It could contain a conflict to elicit a response from the learners, but even if it doesn’t, it must aim to amaze and “wow” them.

A second important technique is the use of “focus moments.” These small motion elements, inserted between larger animated sequences, will help keep the audience’s attention and highlight specific pieces of information. Small motion elements like zooming in on an object, pronounced movements or introducing something out of sequence can effectively focus attention.

Similarly, the inclusion of intrigue, plot twists and reveals support an effective story. In other words, to ensure that the story keeps the audience’s attention, there should be some drama.

The Characters Every comic book is made memorable by the heroes and villains, and the protagonists of your learning comic must, similarly, be able to carry the story. It is not enough to create memorable characters; you must create relatable ones. Consequently, voice actors should be likeable and plausible.

An important function of the motion comic characters is to create “teaching moments” by building protagonists who are true to life and multidimensional. Incorporate elements such as:

  • Tension (e.g., an inner conflict, character development, a change of heart, etc.)
  • Surprise elements (after all, real people are unpredictable).
  • Human characters with human flaws.

No one relates to characters who are boring, predictable or perfect!

The Special Effects To ensure that the visual story is engaging and impactful, there are a number of important design elements to consider.

Firstly, when creating motion comics for e-learning, it’s important to keep users’ location and available bandwidth in mind. Flat vector files are the best bet for countries with restricted bandwidth. Limited color will keep file sizes small, and judicious use of audio will also help manage bandwidth restrictions.

In the design process, there are a number of techniques to focus learner attention, including framing, zooming in and out, and sizing. Framing images can help make a character look suspicious, small, powerful or warm. Zooming in can help learners focus on a face and lose the context surrounding it, while zooming out can make them lose sight of the emotion of, and break the connection with, a face or a focal point. Finally, a close-up on a character’s face is more personal than a full body shot.

The Verdict It is possible to create engaging and cost-effective e-learning by following this winning formula for motion comics. All you need is a carefully constructed script, engaging visuals, looping animations and a few big narrative sequences. Using a technique as simple as comic panels to tell a story, you can connect with your audience, develop memorable characters and drive behavioral change.

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