Characters add a special appeal to eLearning courses. They can be used to showcase scenarios or situations that learners come across in their day-to-day lives. Let’s say you are developing a course that explains the recruitment process involving several individuals within the organization. You have two options. You can refer to the different people involved in the recruitment process by their positions such as the HR manager, Hiring manager and so on. Alternatively, you can develop a fictitious character with a fictitious name for each individual – Linda, the HR manager or Bob, the hiring manager. Characters relate to the learners and help them in assimilating the content better. Here are some tips on using characters in eLearning.
Create characters that the audience can identify with: Choose characters based on the role you intend them to play. It could represent a colleague, a supervisor or an expert in the organization. You need to design and dress your characters accordingly to provide validity to the content of the course. For example, if the character represents a young 20 year old retail sales executive, choose a character dressed in less formal clothes and use more informal language. However, the same will not be appropriate if the character is representing a senior manager or CEO.
Use situations and scenarios that learners can relate to: Place the characters in situations that the learners can relate to easily. Real life scenarios and situations enable the learner to relate to the character and thereby focus on what is being taught. They can be powerful means of communicating the learning message. What you need to keep in mind is that you do not lose sight of the learning objective when creating the scenarios for the characters.
Prepare storyboards with a good story line: It is true that characters helps to enhance the learning experience. However, you need to have a good story line with logical sequence of content that helps attain the learning objectives. The ultimate aim is to ensure that learners comprehend the content accurately. Fancy characters with no subject matter results in poor understanding and with the purpose not being achieved. Any dialogue or humor that you want to add in the storyline should have a purpose and add value to the content.
Test the character and content before finalizing: Sound out the content and storyboard with all the stakeholders to make sure that it meets all the learning objectives. The target audience should be able to understand and accept the characters and be receptive to what they are trying to communicate. Only then will its purpose for learning be achieved. Characters simulate real-life interactions between individuals. Make sure you incorporate all the answers that might arise during normal interactions.
Characters help make eLearning courses exciting and engaging. Facts and important concepts can be reinforced without sounding repetitive using characters. It makes developing the courses as much fun as taking them. The key is to understand the context, design the characters accordingly and present the content accordingly.