When course designers want to make content more engaging for learners, one of the most common things they turn to is animations. Effectively using animations in e-learning can be a great way to connect learners with content and create a truly engaging experience. 

Before you start adding animations to your projects, it’s important to know when and how to use animations in a meaningful way. In this article, I’ll walk you through some key times you might want to consider using animations to enhance the learning experience. Let’s take a closer look!  

Teach a Concept

Often, course designers default to the same formula whenever they explain a concept: a static image with text. Instead, why not show learners what that concept looks like in action? Check out this driving example by Allison LaMotte that uses animations to illustrate the rules of the road: 

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Explain a Process

It’s often easier to understand a process if you can see it for yourself. Sure, you can explain it, but whenever possible, try using animations to show each step, like Tom Kuhlmann does in this beer-brewing example: 

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Tell a Story

Animations can be particularly useful when you want to tell a story. A simple animated movement can catch and keep your learners’ attention, like in this example by Trina Rimmer:

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Show Data

Using animations to show learners data—instead of just telling them—can have a greater impact and make content more memorable. So the next time you’re tempted to just type out all the stats, think about how you can transform that data, like David Tait does in this example:

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Give Instructions

Depending on your course, you might need to include instructions for your learners. If you’re used to including an instruction screen full of text, why not replace it with animated images to give context, like in this Flashback Quiz:

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Add Interest 

Adding subtle animations that are relevant to the content can be a nice change to otherwise static content. These types of animations can spark learners’ interest and elevate your course. Take a look at the subtle animations in each section header of this Dog Care Basics course I created. 

To grab the learners’ attention, I also added a bit of humor at the start. As a  general rule, it’s okay to occasionally introduce lighthearted humor to a course as long as it’s relevant, not offensive, and keeps the focus on what’s most important—the content.

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The Bottom Line

These are just a few situations where it might work to use animations in your projects to help learners connect with the content. It’s up to you—as the instructional designer—to determine what makes the most sense for your course.

And if you’re looking for more tips or inspiration on adding animations to your courses, then check out these helpful resources:

What meaningful ways have you used animations in your projects? Please share your ideas or examples below!  

Want to create your own animation, but don’t have Articulate 360? Start a free 30-day trial, and come back to E-Learning Heroes regularly for more helpful advice on everything related to e-learning. If you have any questions, please share them in the comments.

Noah Mitchell

Hi, Sarah. Thanks for this article! I'm trying to learn when, where, and why to use animation. Sometimes, I have the tendency to go off on a tangent, but that's not always a bad thing: I learn a lot! Are most of these animations done strictly in Storyline 360? Or other animation software. If done in other software, could you point me in the direction of an article explaining which animation software might pair best with Storyline 360? Maybe a better way to put that is, as an instructional designer in 2021, what animation software should I be focusing on more to enhance my courses? My company takes a much more sleek/professional look. So, I haven't really delved much in Vyond at this point, just to give you some context. I look forward to feedback from anyone, honestly! :) Thanks ... Expand

Sarah Hodge