Best practices for the use of animation in education
The use of animation in education is very popular these days. Most teachers, and that includes those who teach higher education, look to it as a way to connect to a more tech-savvy generation of learners. But what exactly do you use animation for? What techniques are best for your subject? When should you use animation? It is possible for you to overuse it. Well, worry not, because today we will take you through the best practices that you can apply to your course!
Animation is going beyond schooling
Animation has a reputation of being a tool for attracting children, and is somewhat unprofessional when it comes to adults. But this shouldn’t be the case. Since adult learners get tired of reading as well, animation is often the go-to teaching material!
There are many things that are more easily described using animations than images or talking-head videos. For adult learners, animation can be best used to:
- Demonstrate abstract concepts
- Liven up case studies
- Encourage flexible learning
- Reduce the learning difficulties of dyslexia
Let’s look at each of these practices in more detail!
To demonstrate abstract and complex concepts
Whether in natural or social sciences, there are concepts that are so much more understandable if they could be explained visually for the students. We’ll describe some cases below!
In subjects like Physics or Engineering, many concepts are either too small or too big for the human eye to observe. For example, how can you see the reaction of atoms, or the death of a star? How do you show that a building must have certain support structures in order to stand? These are things that cannot be better demonstrated than through visualization.
Here is a great example of the use of animation in education. As part of an Engineering course at the University of New South Wales, the animated video illustrates the formation of metamorphic rocks on the ocean floor. In other words, it’s a process that can’t be observed due to the length of time it takes for it occur in full.
You can read more about animation in teaching science here:
Such application of animation in higher education is becoming very common. The University of Colorado Boulder’s Chemistry Department has a catalogue of animated resources that are also interactive. Students can perform certain actions and see the effects, thus better understanding the concept.
Similarly, in subjects like Business, Economics and Political Science there are also theories and concepts that can be better explained using animated visuals. Rather than drawing it or producing a still diagram, wouldn’t a moving image of how income moves in the economy be much more engaging?
This is a simple but good example of how animation can explain a big economic concept in a colorful and fun way. In being able to link how the money moves, students can better remember the concept of the circular flow of income. Moreover, this method is probably more effective than just using words to explain.
Finance and Accounting
For this area of study, problems and concepts are very much number based. Otherwise put, the subjects are quite complicated, and so can be confusing and overwhelming. To help with that, animated clips can present mathematical processes in a step-by-step method to avoid confusion. If the clips are made available after classes, students can also go back over it if they still are not sure!
Furthermore, to make a subject so heavy on numbers more interesting, animations can provide little breaks in class. Particularly, short videos like the one below can explain the situation in which these processes can be used. As a result, the subject becomes more engaging!
To bring case studies to life
Besides big concepts, subjects such as Business, Marketing or Law base a lot of learning on case studies. And here’s where you may see another plus point of the use of animation in education.
Case studies are supposed to bring real-life applications into the classroom. However, due to their traditionally text-based nature, case studies can be a bore to go through. Because of that, students may find these examples to be not connected to them, or even abstract. To prevent this negative effect, animation can be used to blow life into case studies by visualizing the situation.
This doesn’t mean you have to animate everything. Rather than displaying the whole case study via animation, you can take a blended approach. You can use a snappy, short video as a break from texts or as an introduction to your lecture to capture attention. Once students have had a general idea of the case, you can go on with texts for more in-depth discussions.
For instance, this video shows how it could work. You can use this short clip as an introduction to Business Management, as it talks about ways to improve efficiency in production. By applying story-telling techniques, the animation creates a relevant scenario where theories can be applied. In seeing and realizing how theories work in practice, students can better take in the knowledge.
To encourage flexible learning
Moving on, we have flexible learning. Thanks to the internet and the smartphone, a lot of resources and ways of study are available to students nowadays.
Considering this, the use of animation in education takes on another role. That is to say, it encourages students to learn whenever, and expand their learning experiences. Firstly, short animated videos are perfect for revision for the following reasons:
- There can be a combination of texts in bullet points, images and audio effects
- Not a lot of attention is required, unlike reading pure texts
- Students can watch videos whenever, wherever
Specifically, this would be a great approach to take for teaching languages. Take a look at this animated video to see how.
One way to do this is just to have a simple video like this one. It was made using Powtoon, which allows any teacher to dabble in animated teaching aids, especially as a beginner. The nice thing about this video is that it’s concise and colorful, which captures students’ attention. What’s even more special is that it combines all the visual, aural and textual elements to include learning pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar structures! It’s a very efficient way to teach languages, and help students learn flexibly.
Some more information about available animation tools:
Additionally, such a video can remind students of how fun learning can be. It may be brought to their attention that there are plenty of online resources like that to be discovered! So they are motivated to learn more through finding out more materials that suit their interests. Because of this, the learning process becomes more flexible and personal, and therefore more effective.
To reduce the learning difficulties of dyslexia
Five to fifteen percent of learners worldwide face difficulties reading and processing textual information. This is due to a condition called dyslexia that makes learners take more time and effort to work through text-based courses.
So using animation is ideal as it helps such learners by using more visual and audio teaching aids. This perfect combination makes things easier to understand and shorten learning time. Even better, the animated visuals will not only aid dyslexic learners but also all the other students as well.
Here, find out more about visual learning:
So those are the best ways you can bring animation into education. Consider your materials, and decide accordingly when to use animated videos. To sum up, the best cases for it are when there are abstract concepts to describe, when you want to introduce case studies, and when you want to help with revision. To further aid you on this quest, there are some useful links below!
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