In organizations like yours, the overall success of the team is based on the individual contributions of your associates. Our approach to instructional design helps you attract, retain, and enrich each and every individual on your team.

What’s our philosophy?

First, we align the learning objectives with your desired outcome. Next, it’s all about the learner: learning by doing, discovery, telling stories, and providing perspectives. My team of instructional design professionals is immersed in an environment that enables success. Mentorship, peer review, collaboration with technologists and designers, and templates, tools, and interaction libraries make their designs – and your vision – come to life.

Thought Leader: Clare Dygert- Manager, Instructional Design



Clare Dygert
Director of Instructional Design

Clare Dygert is a smart, experienced, and empathetic professional, and as SweetRush’s Director of Instructional Design, every bit of her magic is fully engaged. As a leader and mentor, Clare infuses her team with positive energy and a can-do attitude. Working with Clare always proves to be an enriching experience. Think of a topic area, and chances are Clare has experience forging that subject matter into teachable components. Her natural curiosity and penchant for research in cognitive science always inform her design approach. As the ID team lead, Clare guides our highly accomplished instructional designers as they develop cutting-edge ILT and eLearning for the world’s most successful organizations. Like all of us at SweetRush, Clare is passionate about fairness, diversity, and inclusion. She loves being part of a culture that believes business can and should make a difference—a belief that validates the hard work and energy she applies to her craft every day.


What is an

An avatar is a character that serves as part of a story in your training module, game, or simulation.

The avatar may be designed as an expert who provides guidance and feedback to the learner, or it may be a peer or colleague who can motivate learners and provide tips and assistance. In some cases, learners may select an avatar, customize its appearance, and control its actions during the learning experience.
What does the research say?
Some of us can remember back to the much-maligned Microsoft® paper clip and question the use of avatars.

However, research and our experience show that, done well, avatars can be an effective learning tool. With some companies shifting away from classroom training, avatars offer a human touch within e-learning and a way to deliver consistent instructional messages. They can also increase engagement and interest in continuing instruction. When learners control the avatars, they can influence behavior—particularly when they resemble the learner in some way. Behaviors practiced in the virtual world are more likely to be practiced in a real environment.
Why else should you consider Avatars? The key advantage with animated avatars, beyond learner engagement,is their flexibility and ease of future maintenance. Whether you need minor changes or major additions, animated avatars don’t require a re-shoot—and you never have to schedule around their vacations!
What works
well and what doesn’t?

First, the presence of a visual (animated, ideally) is essential; just hearing a voice does not appear to provide all of the benefits of an avatar. Second, don’t overuse the avatar. Use it when you need to introduce, emphasize, or summarize key points. Third, keep your audience in mind. A professional audience will respond more favorably to more realistic and sophisticated avatars, and a younger audience may favor a more cartoon-based avatar.
Check out these samples from the SweetRush Avatar library for more inspiration.
Nancy is a good representation of a somewhat stylized avatar. She is the right avatar for a cross between a cartoon and a realistic avatar. The style can work with younger and older audiences.
Avatar Nancy Red Line Avatar Jennifer
CHARACTER 2 Jennifer
Jennifer is an example of a highly stylized avatar. She leans more toward a cartoon, less-realistic style. She appeals to younger audiences; however, this style can liven up dry content and make it more approachable.
Yellow Line Avatar John
John is a great marriage of stylized and realistic. We have found that if avatars are too realistic, they can have, as called in our industry, the “creep-out effect.” Leaving some interpretation of the details to learners allows them to better relate to the avatar.
Green Line
Alex falls into the same category as Jennifer, as he is on the more stylized side. These types of avatars really create a sense of fun in courses and allow for humor. They are more approachable for learners who might be timid about significant amounts of detailed content. We have used this avatar with large corporate clients during game simulations with great success.
Avatar Alex Blue Line Avatar Bruno
Bruno is a nice cross between a realistic and cartoon style. He has a lot of personality and can be used to demonstrate information in a more approachable way. He can be an avatar guide with or without voice, and provide a lot of key content.
Purple Line Avatar Scooter
Scooter is a little puff ball of fun! He is definitely on the cartoon side. This style has been used with young and mature audiences. Who doesn’t love and connect with a cute puppy?


Adaptive learning
I want to talk about The Simpsons. Actually, I want to talk about a particular scene in season 6, episode 4, when the family takes a road trip to Itchy & Scratchy Land. It’s an exciting time for Bart and Lisa; it took them some time to convince their parents, Homer and Marge, to go,...
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They say traveling is the most basic form of learning, but learning can be a journey as well. Here at SweetRush, we don’t see learning as a one-time event, but as a continuous process that happens over time, through different means. As John Cleave, PhD, one of our eLearning Technologists, says, “Learning as a journey...
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The quintessential example of a visionary is Martin Luther King Jr., who led the fight for civil rights with strength and compassion. Visionaries like King have one thing in common—they all have a clear, long-range view of how things should be. True visionaries pair their vision with their ability to manipulate a medium or system...
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We recently held a webinar about mobile learning consulting, and we received some great questions from the participants regarding our mobile learning experience. To answer your questions, we reached out to the experts! Director of Engineering and Technology Misha Milshtein, QA Manager Susan Gravel, Solution Architect Erin Krebs, and our speakers, Manager of Instructional Design...
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Building a Community of Practice
In Part 1 of my “Learning Toward a Common Goal” blog series, I discussed Mass Collaboration exercises such as Cicada 3301, and their benefits to corporations and organizations. In this blog, I’ll tackle how to get traction with your “community of practice.” Yammer, Facebook®, home-grown technologies… I often see clients create community of practice sites...
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31+ Mobile Learning Tips for Instructional Designers
There’s a shift happening in the world of instructional design, and the new kid in town is mobile learning. Well, he’s hardly the new kid anymore—he’s set up shop and customers are pretty excited about what he’s got to offer. Learning anywhere, anytime? Sign us up! As the instructional designer next door, you are in...
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Instructor Led Training ILT Magic Engage Learners
I was in Las Vegas recently, and I went to see David Copperfield. Remember him? He’s the illusionist who made the Grand Canyon disappear. His show is amazing and, no doubt, his illusions are top-notch. But what really struck me is how he continually engaged his audience throughout the show. Almost every trick incorporated audience...
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Lessons Sixth Graders Adult Learning
I know adult learning theories. I’m skilled in instructional design and a master of curriculum models. I’m an expert in facilitation and evaluation of learning. I am a learning professional! (Cue superhero music…) Then I was asked to create a course for sixth graders. They told me the goals were simple: Create an elective for...
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Tips for writing audio narration - rock your next audio script
“Are you ready? Let’s get started!” Audio has always been a core element of e-learning, and today — with the rise of avatars, games, simulations, podcasts, and m-learning — it plays an even more integral role. Tasked with writing both the text on screen and audio scripts, it can be easy for instructional designers to...
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Using game features, such as badges, keep learners engaged during training.
Drag-and-drop. Multiple-choice. Matching. These tried-and-true activities have become the staples of e-learning. To me, they’re kind of like the coat and shoes you use to walk the dog: They have their place, serve a purpose, and get the job done, but they shouldn’t be your first choice when you need to really dress to impress!...
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training meaning meaningful work
The article is the result of a collaborative inquiry begun by our Good Things Initiative team leaders Andrei Hedstrom and Brooking Gatewood. Together we have worked to integrate a meaning of work aspect into our training designs where-ever possible. Read on to find out why we are so excited about this win-win training solution! Today...
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Too Sexy for Your Training: Creating A “What’s In it for Me?” (WIIFM) When Your Learners Couldn’t Care Less
Two integral parts of any large change within an organization are gaining buy-in for the change and developing internal change champions. As a strategic partner to our clients in helping foster behavior change within their organizations, we believe effective communications around the change are essential for buy-in and success. We can make the best training...
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Job Aids… and If You Need Them
In a recent training class that I am attending, I received the most perfect “job aid” to take home with me and apply “on the job” in the coming months. You see, my husband and I are in training to become parents of a newborn, and the job aid we received in class last week...
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Reaping the benefits of virtual training part II
Every time I get on a video call, I chuckle over the old joke about news anchors never wearing pants behind the news desk. Jokes aside, using video to communicate during a virtual training (vILT) session is one creative way to keep learners engaged. In part one of Reaping the Benefits of Virtual Training, I...
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The Learning Rush Alert
Of all the areas in which companies invest in custom learning solutions, sales training continues to be at the top of the list. And for good reason: from building product knowledge to honing sales skills, improving the performance of sales professionals has a direct impact on the bottom line. What will engage your sales audience—and...
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The Learning Rush Alert
We love to share, and our goal for 2018 is to continue spreading our knowledge and inspiring the learning and development community with blogs, articles, and conference presentations featuring interesting topics, best practices, and tips to help learning professionals create successful solutions. Let’s begin 2018 by getting some inspiration from the best 17 learning articles...
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Six are the colors of the rainbow and six are the instructional design trends we highlight in our infographic below, based on SweetRush thought leaders’ predictions for 2017! These are the trends we see making an impact on the corporate training and instructional design this year, driven by learner and client demand, as well as...
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Amazon-learning solutions
How can we apply Amazon’s mission to the development of learning solutions? I like to wear what I call my “learner advocate hat” as an instructional designer. I believe that the learner should be at the forefront of learning design. That sounds like a no-brainer, but too often I see learning solutions (and have been...
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Mass Collaboration Learning SweetRush
This year, it started with a tweet: Nobody knows who it comes from and nobody knows why: for the third year running, though, a mystery puzzle of dazzling proportions has thousands of computerphiles scrambling to decode messages buried in pictures, literary works, and music, using high-tech cryptography programs. Real-world QR code clues have surfaced in...
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Engage Cross Generational Workforce
Let’s say we’re on a call to discuss a new performance improvement project. One of the first questions I’ll ask you is, “Who is your audience?” You might be able to give me a narrow demographic—age range, reading level, preferences, etc. But increasingly you may find yourself reflecting on a particular role and the multigenerational...
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Social Learning Shared Experiences
Learning in the workplace has always had a strong element of “social.” Think about being walked through the office on your first day by a new colleague. Or tapping the shoulder of your officemate to ask a question, and getting a quick response so you can continue your work. Think about how many challenging problems...
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Tacit Knowledge SME Subject Matter Experts
Star performers, master salesmen — really any kind of subject-matter expert (SME) — know what they know based on years of experience. They’ve seen many situations, solved many problems. From a training perspective, the value these experts bring is their developed understanding — not only of what they do, but, more importantly, why they do...
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Foreshadowing and climax are two storytelling techniques used for complex simulations.
If you’re an instructional designer who loves a good novel or a compelling movie, writing for complex simulations gives you a great opportunity to flex your own creative writing muscle. The first part of your job, of course, is to get a firm grasp on the business drivers, the performance gap, and the training objectives,...
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Using Social Media in Classroom Learning
Instructional designers: Do you have a “friend” in Facebook? Integrating social media into performance improvement is a hot topic, but how do you make sure your techniques get plenty of “likes” from learners? ASTD’s T+D magazine featured an article by Dan Steer, Improve Formal Learning with Social Media (note: you must be a member to...
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Storytelling Story Instructional Design
What makes content engaging? Courses need to sparkle, or your message goes in one ear and out the other. We add stories to help capture the imagination. That’s a great start. Then we add an avatar coach to guide us and provide narration. Nice idea. It feels like we need to connect the dots and...
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If You Build It and It’s Not Mandatory, Will They Come?
I’ve been working with a client this week who is seeking to develop a training program for an audience that is in no way required to participate in the program. I’m not going to get into the details of the client: Let’s just say that they manufacture luxury widgets, and they distribute these widgets through...
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Life seemed a lot more challenging before having that virtual portal to the world at my fingertips — the Internet. Everything took so long, and I had to really work to obtain information! Driving an hour through snowdrifts to locate the only copy of academic journals in the tri-county area; muddling through mazes of dimly...
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Reaping the Benefits of Virtual Training, Part One
At one time, I rolled around with a trunk full of software manuals and other training materials. As expected, these quickly became obsolete and eventually met their maker at a beachside bonfire. Yes, prior to 2002, I spent a significant amount of time on the road, delivering software training. After 9/11, based on budgets, an...
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educational marketing
The Challenge: Our client, a large consumer goods manufacturer, discovered that 92 percent of customers wanted a knowledgeable salesperson to sell them products. However, sales associates work in independent stores with many brands to sell, and they’re not mandated to take product knowledge courses from individual brands. The Solution: Create highly engaging educational marketing that...
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Training gen z
As the present now Will later be past The order is rapidly fadin’ And the first one now will later be last Cause the times they are a-changin’ —Bob Dylan Bob’s right. Times indeed are a-changin’. In the fine tradition of the generations before us, we shake our heads at the generations to follow and...
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Learning Rush by SweetRush
Our industry is constantly changing, and 2016 was no exception. Among the many different techniques and types of learning solutions for adults, what once were emerging trends have become integrated into our offerings, while new trends have been generated that offer enormous potential. At SweetRush, well, we love to share. It’s important to spread our...
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Virtual Reality Training In Your Future
Virtual Reality Training Offers New Ways to Replicate the Learner’s Work Environment Facebook® recently announced that it is purchasing Oculus VR® in a deal worth $2 billion. Oculus VR is the Kickstarter-funded company that is developing Oculus Rift, the virtual reality (VR) headset that will change video gaming forever. Oculus Rift literally puts the wearer...
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McDonalds Monopoly Learning Game Designers
Anybody out there a closet McDonald’s® MONOPOLY™ player? I’ve been out of the Midwest for several years now, but nothing beats a fresh brewed iced tea and a good one is hard to find on the West coast. While I’m not a big McDonald’s fan for a variety of reasons, come MONOPOLY season, there is...
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Working with Remote Instructional Designers
Many of us dream of working at home: sucking down coffee all day, sporting a baggy t-shirt and ponytail (or even Einstein hair). We can research, brainstorm detailed designs, and have our storyboard writing spurts without interruption. However, for some instructional designers (IDs) who have worked for many years at an office, large or small,...
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Nano-learning Learning On Demand Strategy Solution eLearning Performance Support
As learning and performance improvement consultants and developers, we see trends emerge across the landscape of our client base, despite vast differences in the products and services they offer. We see workforces becoming more dispersed and virtual teams an acceptable norm. We see organizations looking to reduce training costs and accelerate new-hire orientation through online...
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intentions behaviors growth change staff augmentation talent management
“Others see our behaviors, but do not know our intentions. We know our intentions, but do not see our behaviors.” This simple phrase was the foundation of a very successful leadership program developed a number of years ago; one that I regularly use in my coaching practice. It is one of those memorable expressions that...
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Integrating CSR and Training is like playing cupid - creating a match made in heaven!
I have been in the training industry for more than a decade, and I also have a long-standing personal interest in corporate sustainability and responsibility (CSR). So, naturally, as I’ve watched the CSR field develop, I ask myself this question: How can the training function support CSR initiatives? The good news is that there is...
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Storytelling for complex simulations - avoid writer's block with these techniques!
Character, plot, foreshadowing, climax… with a quick glance, you might think this post is about the Great American Novel or the next hit indie drama. No, I’m not writing to you from a tiny room in Paris hunched over a typewriter, nor am I in a slick writer’s room in Hollywood. Yet writing for complex...
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designing for the mind classroom layout
While the visuals in your presentation and student materials should follow good design principles to enhance student learning, what about the classroom layout? Here at SweetRush, we talk a lot about “designing for the mind.” The way we treat visual design in learning can help or hurt a learner’s experience and ability to retain knowledge....
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Tips for Training Millennials
In our workplace today we see three primary generations: Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials. Gen X, the generation sandwiched in between the Boomers and the Millennials, is only half as big as the Boomer generation. As Boomers retire, there will only be “experienced” workers to fill half of those positions. This means Millennials will...
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“Do you work for the county ‘ID-ing’ bodies?” Such a response is accompanied by a furrowed brow from a perplexed individual when I respond to the question: “What do you do for a living?” I’ve learned to leave the term “ID” out of the equation and give a simple answer. Those of us in the...
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