Why we use animation in our professional courses

At Mindful Education, we produce professional courses which are delivered through the blended learning method, in partnership with colleges and training providers. This delivery method allows learners the flexibility to study the course content online on the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), as well as, attend regular classes with a college tutor. 

The online learning aspect involves a variety of content; watching videos, doing essential practice questions, and completing quizzes to test your knowledge. Animation plays a key part in the video content which is why our Product, Academic, Content, and Creative teams have put a great deal of thought and effort into how the lessons are built.

Our Head of Product, Ivan, and Head of Content Development, Natasha, have co-written this piece to explain a bit more about why we use animation in our professional courses. 

When creating the learning content for our courses, we knew we wanted to incorporate video, similar to the snappy, short, vox-pop style videos that have gained popularity over the last decade. Having conducted a great deal of research around learning and engagement, we found that a typical learner can concentrate for just 45 minutes. With that in mind, it was clear we needed to make that experience as useful and engaging as possible for the learner, and that meant incorporating animation into the content. 

Using animation was a deliberate and purposeful action by our team – we not only wanted to have the presenter speak throughout the video lesson, but we also wanted to illustrate through animation the key points on the screen so that the learner could confirm what they are studying. Although studying for 45 minutes is not very long, just listening to someone talk about a topic for that length of time can become tedious. In our earlier days, all of the video content was on one screen but with our latest CIPD course, we have moved away from single screen lessons, to split screen lessons, where the learner can listen to the presenter and also watch and engage with the animations happening alongside them – animation also helps to actively clarify the content, as just hearing something is not as effective on its own. Although learning this way is a different experience than a live, in-person lesson, the animations helps to enhance the learning process and provide a much fuller experience. 

We also found that there is no such thing as being just a ‘visual learner’ – in fact, people learn best when there is variety and multiple ways of consuming the material. This is why we pay careful attention to how we structure our courses and focus on animating just the key content, rather than everything. Our Content team plays a vital role in structuring the lesson content – when they create scripts for the videos, they logically set them out making it intuitive for our Creative team to identify which sections need to be animated – therefore how the Content team arranges the lesson, can directly impact which part of the lesson the learner will pick up.  

Sometimes, learners need a little extra help understanding longer concepts, and in these cases, we will use story-telling (or an element of it) within our animation to emphasise the key points of the concept – after all, as a species, we have always told each other stories as a way to remember and relay information. Depending on the content, we will either animate an original story from scratch or animate typically well-known stories. 

For example, in a law unit, we animated the famous ‘Donoghue vs Stevenson’ case from 1932, which involved ginger beer, ice cream, and a snail. Because of how distinct this case was and by including a full-screen animation to show how the scenario played out, it is now often fondly referred to by our law learners when they provide feedback at the end of their course –  this goes to show just how memorable animation within storytelling can be. You can watch a snippet of this unit lesson, below. 

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