Cat’s get clicks. This has been proven by celebrity cats like Keyboard Cat. Twenty-Six million views and counting and that isn’t unusual for a cat-video on youtube. Here is the first page search for ‘cat videos‘ on youtube. At the time of this post the top dog, or cat, as it were, has over 45 million views. Mobile phone providers Telus and Fido have tapped into this. Rogers had the two beavers (a proud and strong Canadian symbol!) a while ago that worked for them.
What are the benefits of having animals in your learning or marketing material? Well, people love them. Can’t get enough. They help tap into emotion, which is important to adding weight to a point or topic. The Heath brother focus a lot on the value of emotion towards retention in their book Made To Stick. They can represent different things. Maus is a comic based story about WWII and the holocaust and it uses different types of animals to represent different races of people. So they can allow us as observers to make inferences about them at a glance. They can soften a hard story by using analogy. Disney’s The Jungle Book comes to mind as a great example of using animals to tell a story.
Without dressing them up and assigning a gender or race to them, we are unable to associate negative emotions on an animal and that makes them, at the very least, not un-likable. We start at zero and work up. Unless they’re cute, then we start well above zero.
So the question changes from ‘will it work‘ to ‘how can we apply it?’ That is a much trickier question because if it had been figured out by now, we would have seen it. Where kids are concerned, it’s been done for years! I’m guessing thousands of years. But how can we apply this to an adult learning environment?
We could do what has been done before and simply use them as characters in an elearning story. We could possibly use them as mascots for certain knowledge sections, and use them as a virtual reward for successful completion of a module or a group of modules. The learner could be accumulating a (very humane) menagerie through gamification. Reward is very big in gamification, I don’t know if your aware of that…How would Peta feel about that? I don’t know.