Video Scribing: Storytelling and Whiteboard Animations as a Way to Enhance Teaching and Learning

Concurrent Session 5

Brief Abstract

Whiteboard animations are fun and can also create a novel and effective learning experience for students. Learn how you can use digital instructional tools to develop this type of resources rapidly and how to impact on retention and subjective experiences of enjoyment, engagement, and challenge.


Arturo Cole-Escutia is the director of the Office of Distance Learning and Instructional Technology at the University of North Texas at Dallas. He is responsible for the use of quality instructional technologies by managing the help desk for online students, interfacing with LMS support, IT, Marketing, Admissions, and the registrar to provide and publicize UNT Dallas’s online and hybrid course offerings. He also supports UNT Dallas faculty in the design and implementation of instructional technologies for classroom, online and hybrid courses and works with the administration, IT and faculty to choose and implement best practices for instructional technologies, as well as assisting in the marketing of online/hybrid courses. Before joining UNT Dallas, he served as Director of Online Marketing and Development at Jacksonville University. Prior to that, Arturo was the Director of the Center for the Innovation and Design and Development of Educational Multimedia-Virtual University at the Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey at Monterrey, Mexico. He has more than 18 years of professional experience working in educational technology and eLearning in higher education He earned his Master of Science in communication and his Bachelor of Arts in marketing from the Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey.

Extended Abstract

A whiteboard animation (also known as an explainer video, videoscribe, speed-draw video, or sketch video) is a format for communicating information by combining animated illustration with a voiceover. The combination of listening to an audio track while seeing the concepts come to life in time with the narration creates a powerful medium for communicating information, and is particularly well suited for content that is dry, or may be otherwise difficult to understand.

These videos depict the process of drawing a finished picture, usually on a whiteboard or something resembling a whiteboard. Unlike traditional animations, whiteboard animations can dynamically represent concepts (and misconceptions) without focusing on narrative action. Whiteboard animations place viewers in the animator/narrator role as the images are constructed, presumably with the goal of helping viewers mentally construct the concepts. The animator builds learner expectations with step-by-step drawings and finalizes the main point with the completed drawing; new points are then commenced with a blank board and a new drawing. These animations use somewhat amusing line drawings that can be considered as emotional design in multimedia instruction (Plass, Heidig, Hayward, Homer, & Um, 2014). Emotional design is a term that is used to describe visual design elements in multimedia learning environments that affect learners' emotions and foster learning (Um, Plass, Hayward, & Homer, 2012).

The use of whiteboard animation in distance education is the concept of teaching the learners digitally while maintaining engagement. This mode can be altered with some interactivities and voice-overs. Whiteboard animations can play a huge role in eLearning when using proper delivery methods. With an effective script and storyboarding it can also be used to create better engagement for our students in online environments.

While a professional whiteboard animation requires a ton of planning and proper camera gear, is possible to create a budget whiteboard animation from the comfort of your desk, using software easily available to faculty and instructional designers. This software lets you upload SVG imagery and automate the illustration effect by moving a photograph of a hand around the page. The ability to pull in stock imagery (the software performs an edge-trace, so you could even import photos) means that this approach could be an affordable solution if you don’t have the time, resources and/or don't feel confident enough to create a video like this manually.

In order to provide our students to a well‐designed interface of the storytelling technique through the use of videoscribing and carrying the concepts elaborated in the framework of the conceptual model design process, use have been made of a set of guidelines, rules and recommendations available in the Human Computer Interaction Literature.

An interesting set of guidelines for building good quality interfaces are Quesenbery’s 5 Es (Quesenbery, 2003):

- Effective
The completeness and accuracy with which users achieve their goals

- Efficient
The speed (with accuracy) with which this work can be done

- Engaging
How peasant, satisfying or interesting an interface is to use

- Error tolerant  
How well the product prevents errors, and helps the user recover from any that do occur

- Easy to learn
How well the product support both initial orientation and deeper learning

The office of Distance Learning and Instructional Technologies at the University of North Texas at Dallas (UNT Dallas) have been using eLearning development authoring tools to create self-paced / interactive eLearning material. Our faculty and instructional designers use this technique to create innovative and more engaging learning material for the learners. When instructors choose methods for eLearning based on the analysis, this option also can play a great role for online content delivery to our students.


Whiteboard animations are easy to create! At first glance, whiteboard animation may seem a time-consuming activity, as we need to draw everything, even a single line or word. But this is just a myth. Whiteboard animations are much simpler to create than normal eLearning mode of media like SCORM, WBT, and CBTs. There are various software programs available to create whiteboard animations with ease. Some of the software programs available are:
VideoScribe empowers you to create your own whiteboard-style animated videos without any design or technical know-how.
GoAnimate allows you to produce your own professional whiteboard animation-style video using your mouse and your favorite internet browser.
PowToon is another great web tool that enables you to create powerful video animations and presentations.

Here’s the process we, at UNT Dallas, follow for creating this type of videos for e-Learning:

1. Write the script.
Every good whiteboard animation begins with a script. Your script defines the message you send, the length of the video, the pace of the imagery, and the overall success of your communication.

2. Record the voiceover.
Be sure to use a decent microphone, use an anti-pop noise protection filter, and record in a quiet room that minimizes echoes or use a sound-proof box.

3. Select imagery.
Now that you know what you’re going to say, you can begin creating imagery for your script. Select two, three, or four graphics for each sentence. Some sentences may require multiple images. Don’t worry about the detail, just try and visualize each sentence using simple iconography and basic poses.

4. Arrange the imagery.
Once you’ve decided what imagery should appear for which parts of the script, it’s time to arrange your images.

5. Define the movement guides of the animation.

6. Sync audio and video.
The goal here is to speed up segments of video so that they synchronize with the corresponding narrative of the audio, producing the “speed draw” effect pause the video at the end of sentences, to allow enough time for the imagery that has just been drawn to be digested by the viewer synchronize specific words that are narrated with footage of them being drawn on screen (if applicable).

7. Add music.
A music track can sometimes give a video an extra lift, but is not always necessary.

8. Export and share with your students.
Once that’s done, all that’s left is to export your file, and upload it to your online course.

Using Voice-overs
Most of the whiteboard animations are pictorial representations where a voice-over is a very useful medium to embed with animations to create effective learning material. However, when you are using your text based whiteboard animation, it may not be required to use voice-overs. Instead, you can use background music for creating soothing learning experiences.

Whiteboard animations are fun and also can create an effective learning experience for learners. Creating this kind of learning material can be used to create an online digital classroom where learners can directly learn the topic without the help of teachers.

I learnt the creative skills to develop my own whiteboard animations as part of an assessment and thereafter develop a further presentation to introduce the tool as an easy to adopt new instructional technology that now is used extensively in the design and development of online learning environments at the University of North Texas at Dallas.

This presentation will share the process we've put together for whiteboard animation development, share tips, tricks and stimulate a discussion and ideas for further use across disciplines. I hope this inspires other educators to create their own whiteboard animations. Just about any story is made more compelling by adding visuals. And of course this, in the end, will benefit our students' retention and enhancement of their learning.

Plass et al., (2014) J.L. Plass, S. Heidig, E.O. Hayward, B.D. Homer, E. Um
Emotional design in multimedia learning: effects of shape and color on affect and learning
Learning and Instruction, 29 (2014), pp. 128–140

Quesenbery, W. (2003). Dimensions of Usability: Defining the Conversation, Driving the Process, Proceedings of the UPA 2003  Conference.

Um et al., (2012) E.R. Um, J.L. Plass, E.O. Hayward, B.D. Homer
Emotional design in multimedia learning
Journal of Educational Psychology, 104 (2) (2012), pp. 485–498