This pattern is simply one of the most popular formats at the moment, being the format of choice for video-based content platforms (such as Udemy) or for MOOCs (such as Coursera or EDX).
Making the author visible or simply adding a human face does have an impact according to Mayer’s 3rd Principle of Personalization, creating a sense of social presence in the author. As authors tend to bring their personal perspective when presenting the content, including themselves in examples, learners perceive them as guides through an otherwise difficult domain. Overall, this makes the a more human-to-human relationship between the learners and the content, which in turn supports a deeper cognitive processing.
This format taps into another multimedia principle, Mayer’s Personalization Principle 2: Use of On-Screen Coaches. Having an on-screen agent (be it a cartoonish like character or an actual person) was found to increase the number of solutions generated by learners with 24 to 48%.
While the most popular way to implement this pattern is to simply record a trainer while delivering a presentation, the on-screen character can also be a cartoon characters, with studies showing no differences between using a human-like or cartoon character.
What really matters is for the on-screen character to have a human-like behaviour, in terms of gaze, movement and gestures, as this way, learners will treat them as conversational partners and will engage in deeper cognitive processing.
In implementing this pattern, also have in mind the guidelines from the Video Player pattern.