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Learners have a limited attention span, and often run into learner distractions. We try our best to make the courses as interactive and engaging as possible by adding elements such as scenarios, interactions, gamification, simulations, and other such features into our lessons. One of these features is the use of characters and avatars. These characters do not require too much time or effort to implement, but can jazz up the content instantly.
Characters and avatars in eLearning are used to denote roles that the learner can identify with like mentors, managers, or a subject matter expert. A common way is to use avatars as a presenter who will guide you through the course. Another way is to use interactive markers that introduce the learner to multiple characters. A couple of them can be used as protagonists around whom the plot revolves. You can also consider using them in scenarios. They are portrayed as someone with a similar job profile as that of the learners. The avatar is posed with situations where they have to apply their knowledge to resolve an issue or take critical decisions. That way the learner identifies with the character and learns through modeled experience.
Use avatars to break the ice with the learners when the course starts. The small empathetic bond that emerges between an avatar and a learner helps to get them in the right mood for the rest of the module. The icebreakers can be based on the learning objectives and goals. These characters can also provide tips, highlight important concepts, or simply provide a summary of the course content ahead.
In some instances, you may want to encourage your learners to embody an avatar. That way, your learners can face life-like situations where they get a taste of what it takes to deal with the customers directly. In these instances, learners can encounter more than one character to role-play situations where they deal with multiple clients.
Avatars and characters are great at guiding learners through the course. They can introduce the course objectives, and take the learners through the content. The guide can take several forms depending on the particular characteristics of the course. For example, for a serious compliance course you can use a character who is formally dressed and expresses an authoritative attitude. For a lighter topic, you can use an informal character that mirrors your target learner population.
Avatars add the engagement factor that helps learners connect emotionally with the content. Create an environment that the learners face regularly. Use the avatars as protagonists who are faced with challenges and need to overcome them. Build in gamification where the final outcome is dependent on the decisions the avatars take. This storytelling approach can create a narrative that gets the learners invested in the problems at hand and the solutions to resolve them..
Use characters to assess your learner’s knowledge throughout the course. Make them ask questions along the way to draw learner attention to the important concepts. You can even consider creating detailed assessments at the end of the course with an avatar moderator.
It is important for you to keep in mind that the characters should be friendly yet authoritative. They should be the right blend of professional and personal. Make them too professional and your learners may fail to connect. Make them over friendly, and your learners may feel that they lack credibility. When the balance is just right, your learners will feel connected to the avatar, value guidance, and trust their advice.
Avatars are truly effective in guiding the learners through a course, provide tips, encouraging reflection, and posing questions. When you use them correctly, it enlivens your learners and helps them relate to your content. However, before committing to the use of an avatar, make sure that they help to enhance the subject matter and don’t distract the learners from realizing the learning objectives.
At Designing Digitally, Inc. we develop entertaining eLearning that keeps learners engaged and involved. We can create custom avatars and characters that will help make connections in learning experiences. Our experts do a thorough Training Needs Analysis to identify the right approach and tools for your audience.