6 Benefits of Using Avatars in Online Learning
Ineffective digital learning solutions run the risk of delivering a boring, repetitive, and unrelatable experience. Learners may feel disconnected from the content regardless of how useful and informative it is if presented in a passive, mundane manner. While interactive templates can encourage learners to play a more active role in a training, they may not be enough to sustain the learners’ interest until the end.
Consequently, the use of avatars or virtual humans has seen a dramatic rise in learning solutions over the last few years. The introduction of fictional personas is increasingly common in self-paced digital courses, animations, scenario-based activities, interactive videos, as well as games. What is it about the use of avatars that adds value to learning and improves outcomes? The following are six benefits of using avatars in online training.
They grab attention
Avatars serve as eye-catching elements that instantly attract a learner’s attention. Compared to merely illustrated or animated characters, avatars serve as realistic, state-of-the-art novelties that stand out. The visual appeal of avatars derives from the art of creating unique personalities for a particular learning experience to serve a specific purpose.
For example, when an avatar enlivens a dull static screen to welcome learners to a course and helps them navigate it, learners take notice and look forward to the journey ahead. Such virtual guides can make learners feel more invested in the context as well as the content of the training.
They are engaging
We all enjoy stories that compel us to play a role—which is why storytelling goes hand-in-hand with the use of avatars in digital learning solutions. After all, a scenario-based animation that shows a character in a real-world work situation is a form of short story that draws in learners. Stories and avatars not only make training more appealing, but also ensure that learners remain invested until the end. Avatars used in the right context can prove effective and ensure lasting engagement.
For instance, a virtual onboarding application can benefit from using an avatar (acting as an existing employee) who interacts with the newly hired employee (learner); introduces the latter to the organization’s policies, culture, and facilities; and also answers some FAQs as part of a virtual tour of the organization.
They are relatable
Learners are able to relate to familiar characters, situations, and the real-life appearance of avatars in learning solutions. For instance, in a construction safety training program, one of the activities can feature the avatar of a construction worker at a site and assign the learner (acting as the worker) the job of identifying all visible safety hazards.
Similarly, in a workplace emergency training, avatars can make it easier for learners to imagine themselves in similar situations and make safety-conscious decisions. When learners recognize themselves in an activity, they can connect with the avatar and enjoy an enhanced learning experience.
They offer an emotional connection
Avatars appeal to learners’ emotions. For example, a scenario-based customer service training can present learners with the avatar of a relatable character who is involved in a difficult situation, such as the task of managing an angry customer’s complaint. In such a scenario, learners might be able to better understand the character’s challenges and be more motivated to find a solution to the problem at hand.
Similarly, in ethics training, the use of a relatable avatar in scenarios concerning ethical dilemmas can help learners visualize real-world implications and make better, ethical decisions in similar situations going ahead.
They encourage knowledge application
Interacting with an avatar that assumes a specific role as part of a training program can also go a long way in helping learners practice applying knowledge. For example, in the same customer service training scenario mentioned earlier, the learner (acting as a customer care executive) might need to interact with the avatar of an angry customer who is programmed with specific queries, complaints, or outbursts.
This interaction could help learners apply the lessons learned earlier and come up with appropriate responses to the questions posed by the customer’s avatar. Such virtual scenarios that ask learners to play an active role provide both hands-on training and opportunities to put knowledge into action.
They increase knowledge retention
It is easier to remember what you have learned when the experience involves a mock, live interaction with a virtual avatar. Consider an online sales training that allows learners (acting as sales executives) to apply their practiced sales pitch on the avatar of a prospective client. The avatar—designed to come up with questions and doubts about pricing and strategy—can further push learners to recall important aspects of their sales training and respond accordingly.
Similarly, managers and supervisors can better retain the knowledge acquired in an interviewing skills simulation if it also allows them to interact with avatars of diverse candidates. Such mock interviews could help learners enhance their interpersonal skills and improve their recruitment process. It could also help them practice and improve the quality of tasks like performance reviews, dispute resolutions, and exit interviews.
Scenarios and avatars can be used effectively as part of an online training to teach learners dos and don’ts, advantages and disadvantages, and best practices. To find out more about how KnowledgeWorks Global Learning can create effective scenario-based training with relatable avatars for your workforce, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.