The retail training program at the company I work for was in need of an overhaul. The materials that had served as the standard for onboarding new associates were overwhelmingly long and lacked design continuity. We needed a strategy that modernized the delivery and made eLearning more relatable and engaging. Through my journey to reinvent the training program, I discovered the power of creating a comic book eLearning universe through a web-based tool called Pixton.
An animated call for change
In 2015, a career change led me to Axcess Financial, a financial solutions provider based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Originally my role in the organization was to oversee the implementation of marketing in our retail spaces; however, by 2017 the scope of my work took an unexpected shift when my manager brought up the subject of training. What began as a topic of conversation eventually evolved into a new career in learning and development.
One of my first projects in my new L&D role involved a thorough review of the materials from the existing program. My manager provided great insight and guidance throughout the discovery process, and I was encouraged to spend time in our stores to fully immerse myself in the retail experience. This exercise was quite revealing and beneficial, as it helped me understand the actions and behaviors that would eventually become the course content. This opportunity also allowed me to interact with my learners and gain perspective on what improvements were needed to enhance their onboarding experience.
My manager and I ultimately concluded that the entire program needed to be replaced. The consensus was that the existing courses were too long, the design aesthetic lacked consistency, and the learner experience needed to be updated and enhanced to keep up with the times. Additionally, I believed that a new strategic approach was required, one that could mimic retail behaviors to bring more relevance and authenticity to our associate learning.
While searching for a strategic solution I attended a webinar demonstration where I was introduced to Pixton, a web-based tool that seamlessly allows the user to graphically communicate through the medium of comics. With its vast library of characters, props, and backgrounds, storyboard layouts can be designed to reflect any scenario for educational or training purposes. I immediately recognized the potential of Pixton, and how it could enhance my company’s approach to training. As Pixton allows interested parties to test their product before purchase, I began constructing a course using their tool to propose my vision for eLearning.
The process of creating a comic book eLearning universe
Once my initial proposal and concept was approved, I went to work rewriting content—dissecting it into smaller pieces and simplifying the language to make it easier for associates to understand. Soon the cartoon panels were bringing the rewritten content to life, with characters and layouts that mimicked our retail spaces.
During this creative process I developed two characters, Alyssa and Josh, who became my trainer and trainee who could further elevate the comic book narrative. By introducing these characters, the content suddenly had names and faces that would provide guidance in each eLearning course and throughout the onboarding process. These main characters played an instrumental role in making the content easier to understand because the language became more conversational, which felt more relevant to training in the real-world.
With the help of my developer, these ideas and concepts were then imported into an authoring tool and complemented with simulations, audio, and complementary buttons and backgrounds to give the design aesthetic a finish that felt vibrant and bold.
In five months’ time I was able to deliver a suite of product-specific eLearning courses that supported training in more than 648 retail locations, across 13 states. Our new, comic book eLearning universe was met with praise from both learners and leadership alike. One leader complimented the new approach by stating, “Love the new training. Super cool and updated. Can’t wait to see more!”
Like any instructional designer, my work is far from complete. However, thanks to Pixton, the once-daunting task of designing training has been transformed into something interesting and captivating. Through the help of this web-based tool, I was able to introduce and implement a comic book universe of eLearning that has inspired my company and learners with its fun and modern appeal.