Donna the Designer: Getting Into Character

Donna the Designer: Getting Into Character


[music plays] Hello, there! Did you know that using
characters like me and Stan in your microlearning videos increases
engagement and retention? I’m Donna the Designer, and that’s Stan
the Fairly-New-Design-Man over there. Technically we’re called learning agents,
but that’s just a fancy name for a character. Characters like us make a
story come alive by helping to depict real life in the workplace, making
learning more personal and relatable. Besides being incredibly handsome, using
a character like Stan has lots of benefits. Characters are people you
relate to, so they help humanize video, which in turn engages and motivates
learners, and make scenarios more authentic. Learning agents help to
simplify complex content and act as guides modeling best practices, concepts,
and procedures. You didn’t hear it from me, but Stan is especially good at modeling simple hmm. Our primary goal in life is
to make videos more compelling. If you’re a research geek like me, you’ll probably
want to investigate the psychology behind the use of characters. Ruth
Clark’s article titled “Six Principles of Effective eLearning” provides details on
a variety of research work done in this area. In her article, Clark explains that learning programs using first and second
person language produce better learning than the same programs that use more
formal language. Likewise, studies have shown that adding a
learning agent can also improve learning. It doesn’t even matter whether the
characters are realistic humans or cartoons, either works just as well. The
agent doesn’t even need to be on-screen. A voice alone is enough to promote
better learning. Even though you know I’m not real, the fact that I’m having a
conversation with you, engages you and leads to deeper learning. You see, because I’m talking to you in a conversational way, it’s only natural
that you listen and to respond even if it is just internally. This is how great
characters operate – they pull you in. Pretty sneaky, right? There are lots of
roles you can cast your characters in. Including a novice gives you a character
who needs help and is not afraid to ask for it. If your content is new for your
audience, they’ll be able to easily relate to the novice as a character. Of course, if you have a novice, you’ll likely also need to cast a Subject
Matter Expert to answer their questions. The expert can take on any persona you
choose. A rockin’ robot or know-it-all bee, a respected and recognizable face in
your company, or even a super cool superhero like Stan’s and my alter egos. Stan! Stan? Stan! Superhero time! Phew Okay, clear out, everybody! You, too, little
bee. Shoo! There are plenty of other character types you can use, as well. Most characters will fall into one of two categories. The protagonist is the
central character. The one that comes to mind when you ask, “Whose story is this?” In this video for example, the protagonist is me, Donna the Designer. The other
character category is the antagonist. The antagonist acts as the foil or annoying
opponent of the central character. In this video, that would be Stan the Fairly-New-Design-Man. Be creative with your characters. Take your subject matter and
audience into consideration, and then let your imagination run wild. When developing a character for a video, first consider the primary goal of the
video. What’s the learning objective you want the character to bring to life? Your
character’s entire being needs to reflect the learning objective: his or
her mannerisms, speech patterns, actions and appearance. The learning objective
must remain the focus of every microlearning asset. Next, get a solid
understanding of who the intended audience is for your video. Where
possible, look at demographics, background, and experience and culture to help your character hit its mark. Next, choose the character type, look, and
role. What type of character will help you reach your learning goal?
Who’s your protagonist? Do you need an antagonist, as well? Would your topic
and/or audience require realistic characters or could you use cartoons?
Consider cultural diversity, too. Now comes the fun part –
building out your character. Give them depth and personality. Understand what
makes them tick. Think about their unique mannerisms, tone, personality traits, name ,background, and skills. Use a character development chart to help organize your
characters. The more you know about your characters, the more your audience will be able to relate to them because they’ll be more
realistic. Plus, you’ll be able to put words in their mouths much easier. Script
as though your learning objective depends on it – because it does! This has been Donna the Designer with
Stan on getting into character. I hope we’ve inspired you to invent some fun
characters of your own. Until next time!

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