Do you really need to create an entire training (or elearning) module for that?

Over the weekend, I read this post from Trina Rimmer about how she had just purchased an electric sander and was so pleased with how it worked she wanted to use it everywhere. Her point was that sometimes we get so caught up in our favorite tools that we try to use them even when they’re not the right tool for the job. She went on to offer 10 alternatives to elearning.

One of my favorite alternatives to creating a training session or elearning module is the explainer video, and my favorite tool for developing short explainer videos is PowToon. If you’re looking for an alternative to entire training sessions or elearning modules and something that’s just a little different (and in my opinion more engaging) than a pdf handout or flier, you may want to check out PowToon.

Don’t just take my word for it; following are several examples of what you could create fairly quickly:

Example #1: Business Powtoon

An explainer video produced by PowToon. Yes, they’re trying to sell their product (which is something we’re all trying to do – whether trying to sell the value of an upcoming training or simply trying to sell the value of a concept that people need to know or use), but at the same time, it’s a great example of a short, to-the-point explanation of the PowToon concept and value.


Example #2: How to give great presentations. An alternative to PowerPoint, bullet points, boring presentations.

This is a bite-sized chunk of information about presentations and brain science.  If you’re preparing an SME to give a presentation, this could be a helpful tool.

I could also see using something like this either just prior to a presentation skills workshop or maybe even a week after, reminding people about what they learned (in an email that also included an evaluation form of the training session and/or a questionnaire about what people have applied to their job since the training session).

Example #3: CleverCommuter

While this particular video is focused on public transit and the Clever Commuter program in the U.K., I could see similar videos being produced to briefly highlight key elements of a new policy or to pique a learner’s interest about a new IT system.

In fact, a year ago my team was asked to help put together a 60-minute session to introduce an audience to a new online record keeping system. When I dug more into the reason behind this session, we realized that a 5-minute video created in PowToon was all that we needed in order to introduce the new system to our audience. The 5-minute video got some of the highest post-event feedback scores of the day, much higher than I imagine any session would have received if we had held the audience captive for 60 minutes to walk through and demonstrate every feature of the new system.


Example 4: The Story of a Dreamer

This is an example of a brief PowToon that I put together. Want to share the history of your organization in a more engaging (and perhaps more fun) way? Or perhaps you have an interview coming up for a new L&D position and want to help your application stand out from the crowd.


If you have a couple of hours to play with PowToon, you may find a great alternative to an entire training session or elearning module.

How else could you see the idea of an explainer video being used in your training strategy?




6 thoughts on “Do you really need to create an entire training (or elearning) module for that?

  1. Hi Brian – great post! Yesterday I delivered a training session that went so-so. I realize now that the format was wrong for the audience. I was training a group of visual learners with a long, bulleted PowerPoint presentation. I included images and photos, but the idea of using animations is fantastic! Powtoon seems very engaging. How is the learning curve? I struggle to find balance between effectiveness and efficiency. I often end up using already available tools that are less than ideal because I do not have the time to look into alternatives. Ah! Wouldn’t it be nice to have all the time in the world? Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • Hi Francesca – thanks for dropping a note! Long, bulleted PPT is rarely a winner when it comes to audience experience (although you’re right, sometimes we just don’t have time so it’s all we can slap together).

      Truthfully, the first time I tried using PowToon, I tinkered for about 15 minutes then walked away because I didn’t really get it. Then I saw a co-worker use it and I figured: “If she can figure it out, then I can *definitely* figure it out.”

      There’s definitely a learning curve, and the editing features are pretty rustic, but all in all, after playing around with it for a few hours (maybe 4 or 5 hours), I was able to put together the example that I showed in this post. I’ve since used it for clients and, while it takes a little longer (because it needs to look much more refined when delivering to a client), it’s sooooooo much better than simply delivering a handout or a bullet-riddled PPT in order to deliver short bursts of information.

  2. Great point Brian! I often think we should take a view similar to developers who look for the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) Instead of trying to be 100% comprehensive we should strive to find the minimum effective dose of training. Curious to hear your thoughts on that idea? Cheers!

    • Thanks Mike. To your point I’d say: Yes, and…

      Yes: I completely agree in most cases that an MVP approach really is the way to go. Less talking, more doing, equip people with the basics they’ll need and let them try their new skills on for size in the real world.

      And…: There are some areas, diversity and equity for example, that require a really well-designed, well-thought-out approach in order to be effective and not do more harm than good. When learners can be very sensitive to the subject matter, or in other cases when the subject matter can mean the difference between life and death (Army training, flight school, etc), then it’s a good idea to go all out. That said, the vast majority of training cases can/should fall in the MVP model.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.