22 November

Simplifying Video Creation To Deliver The Ultimate Learning Experience

Simplifying Video Creation To Deliver The Ultimate Learning Experience

Video has become the king of content – which is true for instructional content as well. And there’s good reason for its popularity. Video is engaging, immersive and attention-grabbing. With the emergence of user-friendly and accessible video creation tools, they are also easier to create than ever before. One tool that stands out for its user-friendliness and extensive suite of features is Powtoon. 

For this reason, we invited our friends from Powtoon and the eLearning SaaS platform, Udutu, to speak on how to improve your learning experiences with video. The webinar speakers were Adam Suissa, the Head of Global Alliances at Powtoon, and Jennifer Foster the Lead for Learning and Development at Udutu. And both have impressive backgrounds in instructional design and eLearning. 

As a former teacher, Jennifer now creates accessible, engaging and flexible learning experiences at Udutu. She particularly loves storytelling and using video as a way to make the information stick. In his role at Powtoon, Adam started the Global Partners Program in 2021 and has a background in digital skills, and learning information and management platforms.

So if you missed the webinar and are interested in learning from industry leaders about how to deliver engaging and effective learning experiences using video, keep reading for all the webinar highlights.

Introduction

Adam opened the webinar by sharing that over the last 10 years, Powtoon, which is a simple to use video creation platform, has been basically changing the way that content is developed and distributed across organisations. And this is true for both internal customers and external audiences. It is also not only for L&D, but also for content that is created by consultants, sales teams, HR, communications, customer education, marketing and other departments. 

As head of Powtoon partnerships, Adam has been fortunate to see thousands of video projects built by some of the world’s largest organisations. But instead of Adam sharing stats and the business cases for using video – and how Powtoon has simplified that process, he decided to connect live with Jennifer Foster, who will be sharing her history and creativity with Powtoon. She’ll also share some of her journey as a Lead for Learning and Development at Udutu. 

If you’re an instructional designer or are upskilling to become an instructional designer, learning about Jennifer’s story may be insightful. It could give you the opportunity to hear about Jennifer’s background, the decisions she’s made along her journey transitioning from education into instructional design and how she got into the corporate world of instructional design. 

From Teacher to Instructional Designer 

Jennifer started her story by sharing that ‘with instructional design, it’s interesting because I don’t think anyone goes into university being like I’m gonna be an instructional designer’. She believes that the path to instructional design is normally quite windy – which is why there are many creative people in the field. However, for Jennifer, before she became an instructional designer, her passion was education and teaching. 

She shared that she was inspired at a very young age to teach and used to even play teacher as a child. So naturally, she went to university to get her teacher’s education and then started in the profession. But very quickly, she felt undervalued in education. Although the job was fulfilling, the hours were long and the pay was low. And while she wanted to continue teaching, she wanted something more flexible, with better pay and more growth potential.

Jennifer’s mother, who is a communications consultant, recommended she look into a career in instructional design. Although Jennifer was initially excited about the idea, she decided to try a different career out before becoming an instructional designer. And the career she decided on was as a journeyman electrician. Since she had friends in the industry and the pay was good, she thought it may be a good fit.

However, even as she was training to become a journeyman, she got the opportunity to teach a pre-electrical course. It was as though instructional design was just following her along her journey. And then after becoming pregnant, she decided it wasn’t the best job fit with the early start times and lack of flexibility – which prompted her to explore instructional design again.

She found a company in Victoria who ‘took a chance’ on her and thought she had a suitable skill set. After learning HTML, Javascript and CSS, she was up and running and really enjoying her work. She felt valued for her skills and enjoyed creating learning experiences. She felt like she got the ‘best of both worlds’. And to her surprise, even her experience from working as a journeyman electrician came in handy. Because she was used to getting constructive feedback as a journeyman electrician, she was prepared for the feedback you get as an instructional designer.

Do It Yourself vs Finding a Mentor

When it comes to how she got started in instructional design, Jennifer says that she feels like she ‘just got thrown in’ and compares it to learning snowboarding or surfing. She didn’t take a lesson, but just went for it and had a DIY mentality. She gave an example of the three pillars in the James Webb Space Telescope image because her experience starting as an instructional designer was also blurry. And she took a lot of “shots in the dark.” Jennifer also didn’t always know where she was going, which led to “huge time zaps.”

Since she didn’t have a mentor herself, Jennifer started mentoring aspiring instructional designers a few years ago. This experience of mentoring others helped her realise how valuable mentoring can be since you don’t have to focus so much on the small details and you are able to get feedback and structure. It enables you to have a roadmap with clear points.

Even though Jennifer didn’t have one individual mentor, she admits that there were other people that helped her along her journey and gave her advice. However, oftentimes, she had to figure out solutions on her own, which has encouraged her to get out there and meet other instructional designers, and seek feedback from other instructional designers. This has helped inspire her work and feel a sense of community.

Audience Poll: What are the most common formats you work on in the digital learning space?

Social Media Packages: 56%

Video: 66%

PDFs: 19% 

Virtual Classrooms: 57%.

Podcasts 6%

VR and AR 5% 

The Process of Creation

When Jennifer creates videos in Powtoon, she shared that her challenges are not developing and designing in the tool, but rather planning and creating a foundation. So to help her make sure she has everything she needs before starting a project, she uses the acronym, SOLID. The components of the acronym are outlined below:

Style Guide: Understanding the style guide is key. You’ll want to know whether the design should be animated or realistic. And you’ll also need information on logos and colour schemes.

Outcomes: You should also be aware of the learning outcomes and have the stakeholders prioritise them at the start.

Learner: Understanding the learners and the audience is hugely important to ensure the content is appropriate.

Interval: Having intervals is key for maintaining a good project flow with all stakeholders and ensuring it stays on track.

Delivery: This involves deciding how you will deliver the content, such as in an LMS, YouTube, a website or other platform.

Insights on Rapid Development 

As an instructional designer, you only have so much control over a project. However, there are times when a project needs to be created quickly. Jennifer provided an example of a rapid development project she worked on for a health research client. The project involved four modules, and was for two audiences and in two languages – English and French. Since she was using Powtoon, she could quickly copy the courses and insert different narration, which made it easier. However, even though this was a rapid development project, it still took four months due to all the different steps and stakeholders. 

However, for other projects, the development can move along quicker. For example, one of Jennifer’s clients, which is a pizza chain, needed training for their customers to learn how to use their online ordering app. This was a relatively easy problem that involved creating online training that took a week and half to build. However, sometimes it can also be as simple as ‘putting a sticker in the stores’. 

Generally, the turnaround time depends on both the client’s needs and the number of people involved in the project. I’m sure other instructional designers will agree that having more stakeholders in the project can slow down a project. However, Powtoon can really speed up the development time since there are so many great assets. And since videos are so engaging and accessible, it has been a game changer.

Further Tips and Tricks 

Jennifer advises instructional designers to leverage social media platforms, like Linkedin and Facebook in order to ‘reach out and get your name out there’. She encourages the audience to not be afraid to use tools, but focus on storytelling as well – as it’ll help you be more successful in interviews and inspire others.

Another tip from Jennifer is to be able to build a strong storyboard. You could even start by building a black and white storyboard in Word and checking to see if it could be understood. This way, you know that it is a good course if it is effective and engaging even in black and white. Then when you put it into another tool like Powtoon, you already know it’s a great design. 

She made the mistake early in her career of jumping into the tools too soon without storyboarding and advises against this. However, if you do want to use the tools right away, try prototyping first before making the entire design. Then you can go back to your storyboard.

Audience Q&A for Jennifer

How much time do you calculate for rapid development and do you use a formula?

Jennifer’s formula is that every minute of online learning with one screen is one hour of build time. However, for video, that’s a premium; so it ends up being two hours for video. According to Jennifer, this is a reasonable industry standard. And with rapid development, you can get this down to 50% of the regular time. However, this involves ‘cutting down the fat on the process’ and using the right tools. 

What is the most challenging course that you’ve designed? 

One of Jennifer’s clients was a local company in Victoria that was building a respirator for COVID-19 in the middle of the panic during the pandemic. She worked with this client to build training so that the restorator therapists could use the respirator properly. And she had to build this training in a month even though there were so many ‘checks and balances’. Since it was rapid development only some video was used, and at that time Jennifer wasn’t using Powtoon. However, she felt ‘honoured’ to be a part of the project due to the challenge.

What is your favourite software tool?

For imagery that she can’t find on Powtoon, Jennifer’s favourite tools are Flaticon and Freepik. She also uses the screen capture tool, Snagit, although Powtoon also has a screen capture feature as well.

For interactive and clickable elements, she recommends Genially. And for narration, she recommends Audacity, for which there are tutorials on how to improve your narration. Jennifer then sends Audacity to clients when they want to narrate themselves.

She then puts everything into Udutu, which is a rapid development authoring tool. She states that ‘anything that lives on the internet can also live in Udutu’. This means, you can embed YouTube videos, Powtoon and Articulate Rise. This way, you can make your designs more multimedia.

Do you have tips on creating gamification in Powtoon?

For gamification, Jennifer creates scenarios. You can make a one minute video to introduce a scenario and then capture images and GIFS to support the whole story as you go. There’s a scenario builder, so you can give them some choices, and then you just ‘go down the rabbit hole’. If you are new to building scenarios, a linear scenario is best. She advises not trying to branch out too far because it can get complicated and too overwhelming.

How do you decide where and when to use videos instead of other media and the initial design system? 

For Jennifer, the client will often dictate when to use videos or other media. And it frequently depends on what kind of budget they have. However, she almost always gets them to agree on a couple of minutes of video through their training – whether it’s to illuminate a really challenging concept or to create something engaging and fun, like a scenario. And since this is pretty inexpensive, it’s a risk they’re usually willing to take. Therefore, she usually puts at least some Powtoons in designs.

Another tip from Jennifer is to get to know your client before you make a Powtoon, as it can be fun to make a character of them in Powtoon. According to Jennifer, they tend to really enjoy seeing themselves – which is a trick for an instructional designer.

What is the best way to promote the relevant skills and experience on Linkedin and your CV so that those skills are seriously considered? 

If you’re okay with your employer knowing you’re looking for work, Jennifer advises putting this at the very top of your LinkedIn that you’re open to instructional design work. This way, when people go to your profile, they will read your profile through this lens and they’ll also be able to find your profile. She advises also trying to keep open conversations and be humble about it.

Have you used your processes for different workflows?

At the start of the project, Jennifer gives clients a ‘preamble’ about the acronym SOLID in order to make them feel comfortable and confident that their training is ‘in good hands’. So she uses this formula for every project as it is something she can continuously re-use and doesn’t deviate from the timelines. However, for some projects with a lot of moving pieces, then sometimes you do have to change things. However, she states there is a ‘certain flow’ that creates consistency in projects.

Have you ever experienced SMEs expecting you to become an SME very quickly in terms of adopting the knowledge and getting on a board with a design? What’s your take on this and how would you approach it?

According to Jennifer, you will usually be very knowledgeable by the end of building a course. So you should make time for learning about the subject matter and familiarising yourself as part of the project. However, you can have the client help by identifying the outcomes. Jennifer gets her clients to do this by asking them to make five true questions and five false questions. And then the five true questions are the priorities for the training. 

Could you tell us more about the most exciting projects that you’ve worked on and that you’re really really proud of?

One project that Jennifer is particularly proud of is a training she worked on with Blue Door, which is a charity organisation in Ontario in Canada that helps vulnerable populations. They support people with getting housing and jobs in the trades. The project she worked on involves teaching employability skills and what to expect in each trade, which she particularly enjoyed. 

Audience Q&A for Adam

How can you upload Powtoon into LMS platforms?

There are many ways you can extract your content from Powtoon and bring it into a learning environment. You can get MP4s and upload those into your LMS. You can also get URLS and embed codes. 

Adam shared that most of the instructional designers use authoring tools like Articulate, for example. They will typically upload it in before, or use an embed code to then bring that into their courses. Then they will download the entire course as a SCORM package for uploading into their LMS. You can also create GIFs in Powtoon for emails, and can get presentations out of Pattern, to use in a live webinar environment.

What is the demand for instructional designers?

From Adam’s experience working in the Powtoon headquarters, there’s an enormous growing demand for courses to move away from ‘dreary powerpoints’ into more visual and dynamic content. Therefore video creators that can use tools like Powtoon will be able to add a lot of value to the content. This can help teams build out, whether that’s as someone who is hired or outsourced. 

Final thoughts

Videos are a powerful tool in eLearning. And with the emergence of user-friendly video creation tools like Powtoon, they are more accessible to create than ever. So if you’re not yet leveraging video content in your courses and training, the time to start is now.

To learn more about how to get started using video content creation tools, a Professional Diploma in Digital Learning Design can give you the perfect foundation. You’ll learn about the basics in video creation in instructional design and give your career a boost at the same time.