Animation in eLearning: PowerPoint Tips and Tricks

We all know that one of the challenges of digital training is to keep learners engaged. People prefer rich, dynamic content they can interact with — not static slides to passively absorb information from. This engagement can be achieved by using animation in eLearning courses. On the other hand, excessive animation can make training courses look far from engaging.

In this article, we’ll demonstrate how to create great PowerPoint animations in eLearning courses and which practices should be avoided. It also explains a few advanced animation techniques for those who are looking for a way to make their content stand out.

What Are Animations and How Are They Used in Instructional Design?

In a broad sense, everything that can apply motion to static content can be considered animation. The simplest example of eLearning animation is when objects are revealed one by one, as if you’re writing them on the backboard. New information is presented bit by bit, and important pieces are highlighted when needed:

Simple animation example

But, of course, the use of animations in eLearning doesn’t stop there. For one, animations allow instructional designers to illustrate how things work. For example, pistons moving inside a car engine, heart pumping blood to arteries of a human body, or a strategy scheme for a team sport like in this example:

Team sport animation example

Previously, creating such animations on a computer required a lot of processing power and could only be done with specialized software by skilled motion animators. These days, there are endless possibilities for eLearning designers to create their own instructional animations, the simplest one being PowerPoint. It’s a tool most of us are familiar with and it happens to offer great functionality for eLearning animation.

Here are the training issues that you can address using animations:

  • Explain processes and difficult concepts by interpreting them visually.
  • Create a simulation of a piece of machinery or software to help learners understand how it works.
  • Tell stories by logically connecting a sequence of slides together, creating an engaging narrative and, thus, keeping learners engaged in the learning process.
  • Breathe life into slides with some simple interactivity.

Since we’re using PowerPoint as the authoring software of our choice, let’s look at the ground rules for creating animations in this tool. To read more