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Wednesday, 27 October 2021
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The Charity Learning Consortium: Creating video and animation on a shoestring budget

TOM Boyesen-Corballis explains how he got started creating video learning and the impact his work is having at The Prince’s Trust:

How did you get started creating animation and videos?

It started really by accident. In 2017, I was brought in to work on three short-term projects at The Prince’s Trust and thought that including video and animation in them would make them more engaging. 

I’d done a short course in digital film-making and had a smattering of experience creating videos rather than animation. But I came across some online video animation software called Vyond, which appealed as I didn’t have to install it on my computer – so there were no IT issues. I started using it to make some basic animations, and they were well received. In hindsight, those first ones were probably awful! But you get better and better.

I’ve made hundreds of them now, including full courses, and have also started training other members of the L&D team to create them too. I can’t even draw a stick figure outside of this context, but you really don’t need to. Sometimes I create animations, sometimes video, and sometimes I’ll use a mixture of the two. 

Download Tom’s top tips for creating video and animation.

What do you use video and animation for?

Video is great if you have something that might be considered a bit dry or perhaps abstract. Using videos means you can show rather than tell, and you can make them really colourful, funny and engaging. 

Video and animation also work really well for information transfer if I need to tell you about a policy or process or show you how to use a system. We use them a lot for that. I also use screen capture, which can work brilliantly because people can watch it, pause, then go through the process themselves. A really good example of this is that we’ve been using screen capture for training in how to use Microsoft Teams for people who’ve returned from furlough. This translates really easily into a video, and people can watch it at their leisure.

I wouldn’t advocate video as a be-all and end-all though. We also have a course for facilitators who use Teams to help them deliver engaging sessions. You can’t really translate that into video because it relies on interaction between participants. 

I like to use a wide range of different methods that complement each other. I create programmes using ‘bundles’ of different types of content. I’ve created a whole toolkit for managers, for example, that is a mixture of video, animation, screen capture and various documents. There are maybe 50 items in that altogether.  

The bundles of content in a programme might include instructor-led training. Video complements that as it’s great for preparing people before a face-to-face session or webinar. The instructor can then use the precious time they have face to face for more collaborative activities, in more of a coaching style.

The Charity Learning Consortium: Creating video and animation on a shoestring budget
Animated Tom

What do you see as the key benefit of creating video and animation in-house?

We stopped making bespoke eLearning modules in-house a while ago because the return on investment creating a video is so much greater. Once I have the script, I can make a two to five minute animated video in a day.

By comparison, the longer an eLearning module is, the more complicated it becomes – there are just more moving parts that can go wrong. It means spending a lot of time testing, making sure everything is working properly. The shortest eLearning course I think I ever made took about two weeks.

With a video, the only thing you really need to ensure that you have correct is the script. It might take a bit of going back and forth to get a script agreed but after that, creating bespoke video and animation is just much faster than creating eLearning.

I recently made a 12 video course on safeguarding – so very relevant for everyone in the organisation, no matter what their role. It only took about two weeks to make all 12 videos. 

Another benefit of creating bespoke videos like this is that if one becomes outdated, you just change that one, so I find making videos very convenient. 

How do video and animation sit alongside eLearning provided by the Charity Learning Consortium?

Generic eLearning can work well when it’s part of a programme or bundle of content – and all the work creating the eLearning has been done for you! 

We’re working on creating content in project management, for example, and the project management modules from the Charity Learning Consortium may be useful for that. They might sit alongside some Prince’s Trust specific content, so we might have a generic eLearning course with bespoke resources for context.

How do you evaluate the impact of using video and evaluation?

It’s a real mixture. All the videos are in the cloud, and we do look at views. Some of the mandatory videos have had thousands of views, which is what we would expect from our whole organisation. Other non-mandatory videos might have between 150 and 300 views. 

In the latest safeguarding course, which I’ve created using video and animation, I’ve also programmed in questions so people can’t progress to the end unless they answer them.

From the feedback that people send me, they seem to react very favourably to video and animation. I’ve created an animated character that looks like me in the videos. And I also start every video now with my signature ‘hello, hello, hello’. I’ve had emails from people asking, ‘are you the hello, hello, hello guy? I have this question for you.’ I think just that little bit of humour makes me more approachable.

It’s really difficult to track any changes in behaviour from video and animation, though, and asking an individual is potentially not the best thing to do – you might be better speaking to their manager or colleagues. 

We’re developing a level one reaction survey using the Kirkpatrick model, so in the future, we hope to get better feedback. We’ll then do a level two learning survey and then the level three behaviour survey, but we’re setting that up bit by bit.

Tom Boyesen-Corballis is the Digital Learning Manager at The Prince’s Trust. The organisation has approx 1,100 staff and 3,000 volunteers working across more than 25 regional offices. 

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