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How Can GIFs Be Used In eLearning And Why?

Using GIFS to Teach and Promote Engagement

As instructional designers, we are always looking for new ways to take our eLearning courses to the next level. Whether through animation, visuals, audio or gamification – the end goal is always to encourage engagement and to achieve these learning goals. We all know the advantages of using multimedia in our eLearning projects, but there are also some disadvantages. Not only is video making time consuming, but sometimes it is not the optimal way to teach a skill. For example, when learners are trying to learn a technical process, it can be a little awkward to play the video over and over and jump to the step they are trying to master. This is where GIFs come in. What is a GIF? GIFs are the series of images that make up a silent video. GIFs are automatically repeated so they can play over and over without the learner having to do anything.

How can GIFs be used in e-learning and why?

When used creatively, GIFs Instructional Designers provide another mode of engaging and teaching learners. They can also be a lot less time consuming than creating videos or other multimedia assets because they don’t require audio and are generally very short. Let’s break it down into two sections: engagement and teaching.

GIFs for engagement

GIFs are a great way to drive engagement in your eLearning courses. Research shows that when used correctly, learners are exceptionally good at animation. What are the top five golden rules to keep in mind when using GIFs to increase engagement?

  1. Using GIFs to create animated page headers or images can do wonders to bring a dry topic to life for your learners and add context to the page. Add an animated GIF to give learners a sense of what to expect in this section of their eLearning course. For example, if a page in your course is focused on credit card payment guidelines, it helps to have a credit card swipe GIF staged.
  2. Create an avatar GIF to tell your learners and guide them through their course. Remember, this avatar acts as a tour guide, gently guiding the learners through the training, highlighting points of interest.
  3. Take your avatar a step further and create different GIFs of your avatar to show learners their progress throughout the course. Don’t underestimate the benefits of having a fun GIF popup so your learners know they are in the middle of their course, have reached an important section, or a quiz is coming up.
  4. Add a new dimension to your hotspot images by adding some animated GIF elements. Not only is this a more engaging and interactive exercise for learners, but it can also help encourage learners to keep important information. For example, if you have a hotspot image highlighting health and safety hazards in the office, the animation of a person tripping over a cable is much more likely to get stuck in the minds of your learners.
  5. Because of their small file size, GIFs can be a great way to add multimedia to your micro course without adding too much weight. They can also be used as part of your communication strategy on platforms like Slack or Workplace.

As you can see, GIFs Instructional Designers provide a relatively quick and easy way to add an interactive element to your project. Don’t forget that GIFs should be used sparingly to add value to your content. They should be meaningful and have context so that they improve understanding rather than distracting or confusing learners. When in doubt, leave it out.

GIFs for the classroom

Aside from adding a touch of fun and interest to your eLearning, GIFs can actually be a great tool to use in the classroom. Here are a few ways GIFs can add value to the learning experience:

  • Show short processes
    If the objective of your training is to teach you a short technical process like changing a machine part, a GIF might be the answer. The learner can watch the process over and over again without having to press the play button or jump to the desired part. Of course, this only works with short processes or certain steps that require a certain talent. Imagine you want to explain to someone how to park in parallel. For example, a simple GIF might be the perfect way to show off this short but tricky process.
  • Review the technical steps
    GIFs can be a fantastic way to review certain steps in a process, especially when those steps require physical action. Imagine creating a hairdresser eLearning course on mixing a color. A great way to review these steps is to create a short GIF that barbers can follow in real time.
  • Share instructions and guidelines
    Many instructional designers create guidelines or instructions for learners starting a course to provide context on how certain interactions work, what certain activities mean, and how to download additional resources. GIFs provide a simplified short and cute solution for creating a long instructional document. There are many situations where a GIF can be the most effective method, for example, to explain to learners how a drag-and-drop exercise works, or to show learners how to find activity sheets.

The central theses

Contrary to popular belief, GIFs aren’t just for social media. When used well, they can add real impact and value to your eLearning training. As an instructional designer, it’s always great to add a new tool to your belt and have another option for presenting information in your courses. Rate your content and choose the multimedia option that best achieves the learning objective. Don’t forget the golden rules. Use GIFs sparingly, in context, and to add value to your training.

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