Whimsical Stories: Work Out Loud

Working out loud on whimsicability…

What I learned last year from David Anderson, Melissa Milloway and Jane Bozarth, is that you never know what people find interesting, useful or even funny. Unless you show your work.

Well, it started almost a year ago… I was experimenting with with GoAnimate to see how we could use “rapid” animation in learning. My very first attempt was a small contribution to the Debunk Learning Styles effort.

Then it happened. I created a 2 minute laugh and learn clip on Variable, Triggers and Conditions for Storyline. I had no idea that people would find it funny and watch it over and over again… I even had to create a YouTube channel for that. But that’s how whimsicality started. Today, five months later it has nearly 1,000 views.


The laugh and learn clips continued with some 6 more additions. Including this one about Sliders. One of the most “whimsical” ones, according to viewers. (?)

And this one, about States. This one got the most views and likes for some reason after FooFoo.

How to be “whimsical?”

Again, when I started making these I had no clue that people would actually watch these. But you never know unless you share, right? So, now there might be some of you out there (?) who really want to make “whimsical” animated stories. Here’s my process (this is not a “technical how”, this is a “design how”):

Let’s see how the Intro to Sliders came about.


First, I collect all info I can about the topic. In this case, I learned everything I could about sliders in Storyline. Articulate had a challenge using sliders, so I went through every single submission to see how people use sliders. In two minutes you don’t teach how to use sliders, but it helped to distill the essence of sliderity…

Next, I started brainstorming. What if sliders were alive? What would they look like? How would they behave? Sliders slide. And they control a variable. They can even control another slider… There’s something sneaky about sliding. I imagined sliders as agressive creatures. They also like to attack in groups, like gang-style. This is a threat that’s out there. They’re controlling your lives and you don’t even know about it.

So, someone must stop them! Someone small but determined. Small animal? Ant. Ants march. Therefore, they would have a marching band. Against sliders. Slight pun on Aunts. And we have the two opposite sides.

How to introduce the conflict? Breaking news. Add some L8 Night humor and a random French accent. Then the playground attack. Who are the most vulnerable people? Kids!! You attack kids, you’re a nasty coward. Story is set.

I made the slider attack scene. As I added the voice “We are sliders!”… It just hit me. “We are Farmers!” the insurance slogan. Made a little audio mix and the three bad guys were perfectly HR-appropriately funny.


Let’s think for a moment! What other association do you make when you hear the word “sliders”? Sliding the drink on the counter? Grabbing some small sliders sitting at the bar… Hence, the bar hangout.


The “message to the poeple” is a warning. Sliders are among us! Sliders control you life! That lead to a PA associated slogan later: “See a slider? Slay a slider!” More importantly, this visual message allowed me to show some the eLearning Heroes examples of real sliders.


Next, I set up the tension between the marching aunts and the sliders. Music vs. violence! “Sliders! Slide! Adjust variable! Trigger Action!” That sums up what they do. Up to this point, you’ve seen the sliders and got an idea what they do. Now, it’s time for you to show something weird…


Invisible sliders. You may or may not know that you can turn the slider invisible and looks really weird. At the same time, there’s lots of potential use. Anyway, I wanted to drive home the point: sliders can be invisible.


And of course, by the time I noticed the typo… It stayed: “See a slider? Splay a slider!” Why not? “Splay” sounds much more whimsical than slay… And that’s how it all came about.


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