Pros and Cons of Animated Educational Videos (Based on science)
Using animation for educational purposes is an uprising trend. According to research, every 1 in 2 teachers believes that video content stimulates students’ creativity, 66% of interviewed teachers believe animated educational video increases learner motivation and 62% believe animation helps them to be more effective.
So are you considering adding animated educational videos in your courses?
However, like every new multimedia teaching resource, it has 2 sides of the coin. Do it right, and you will bring great advantages to your eLearning course. Make mistakes, then you will crash down your course with an unprofessional, bad impression. Let’s look at both sides and discuss when should you use animation in eLearning.
What are animated educational videos?
Animated educational videos (or Educational animations) are animations produced for fostering learning purposes. Something needs clarifying here. The Animations mentioned in this post is nothing like twirling bullets or fancy transitions in your instructional slides. They are animated videos that act as visual supporting tools for your courses. They visualize textual materials and help learners better understand complicated or abstract concepts.
Examples of the educational animation application, check out this article:
This article will reveal both advantages and potential disadvantages of using an animated educational video. These are:
Advantages of educational animation
Disadvantages of educational animation
Visualize subjects for better understanding
Distract student from learning
Make learning faster
Take a lot of bandwidth
Motivate students to learn more
The pros of animated educational videos
1. Visualize subjects for better understanding
Animations easily visualize and simplify anything no matter how complex it is. One minute of online video equates to about 1.8 million written words, according to Dr.James L. McQuivey from Forrester Research. Visualization is the best feature of animated learning videos for instructional designers and lecturers. If your course is about science or any difficult subjects that may need more than a plain explanation to help students understand some matters, then you need educational animations. They convert the complex information to illustrations, then animate those images to describe a process.
For instance, the electric current is invisible and the operation of the electric circuit is quite difficult to understand for newbies. To teach them in the traditional way, you need static pictures with marking, arrows, and motion lines. Animations can show temporal change directly, rather than you have to indicate the process by arrows and motion lines. Using animated video can make visual aid not only simpler and less cluttered, but also more vivid, engaging, and more intuitively comprehended.
This example is taken from Aviassist’ Drone Training Course. The animation explains the sophisticated mechanical system of a drone, or to put it simply, describes how it flies. So if we replace the animated educational videos with documents, presentation slides, or illustrations, the lessons will still convey the same amount of information. But students would have a harder time understanding the process.
2. Make learning faster
Animations are time-consuming to produce but they are time-saving material for students to learn. Fun fact, 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text in the brain. In the Journal of Research in Science Teaching No.32, Vickie M Williamson and Michael R Abraham point out:
Animation helps students learn in two ways. It facilitates the creation of mental representations of concepts, phenomenon, and processes and it also replaces difficult cognitive processes (ex: abstraction, imagination).
Animated learning videos save time by providing the images right away. Hence learners would understand the lessons faster, and there is a high likelihood that they will better recall the information.
Take a look at this simple example:
Image source: Uberflip Blog
3. Improve engagement
According to research from The University of Adelaide Australia published in April 2019, Adam et al. developed a series of 36 animated videos at the Stanford School of Medicine in collaboration with four other US medical schools. The videos present stories from fictitious patients to provide real-world application of the technical content taught in medical courses. Additionally, animations can be used to enrich students’ learning tasks and assessments applying to many fields like business administration and technology. Their evidence demonstrates that both engaging student interest and enhancing their understanding of the subject matter constitute important avenues for animated videos to improve students’ overall learning experience.
Education is not only about teaching but also about inspiring people. Unless e-learners have a personal interest in the topics beforehand, it is challenging for educators to motivate students by only talking and giving full-text presentations. When it comes to complicated subjects like maths or sciences, the matter becomes worse.
We all know how an animation livens up the room, and animations with high-quality visuals and audio create such an entertaining atmosphere that learners feel more motivated. Animations also help relieve their stress and keep them concentrated throughout the class.
4. Motivate students to learn more
Have you ever watched times and times again a Ted-Ed video?
When a student watches entertaining animated videos, there is a high chance that he/she may replay it. By watching an educational video repeatedly, what he/she gains is not only academic knowledge but also the discipline and skills of self-learning.
Then is self-learning that important?
Yes, it is. It’s not the matter of WHAT students learn, but HOW they learn it. Self-learning lets students explore different aspects of a problem and figure out how to solve it by themselves. During such processes, students gain a set of skills in critical thinking and problem-solving.
The cons of animated educational animations
1. Distract students from learning
An article from European Journal of Psychology of Education pointed out that extraneous details in the animations can distract students from the relevant messages. Animations or any type of “fun” learning materials could easily distract students from learning. The main source of distraction may come from the lack of context in the videos. So beautiful design is not enough for effective educational animations, you also need to be well aware of what learning objectives the videos are serving. Any elements of the videos must contribute some values to the course.
Yes, this is the ugly truth. To be more specific, cost-consuming is the potential downside of customized animated educational videos, especially tailor-made ones. Customized animations are not something you could download for free on the Internet. Tailor-made products are created to closely follow not only your learning objectives but also your branding guideline. The price ranges may differ for different animation studios from different countries, but a simple 5 minutes animation is hardly lower than $1000. Not to mention that educational animations often come as a series, which means the total length could be up to several hours. As a result, the prices multiply.
However, with technology development, you can have many affordable animation options such as animation software. Vyond (GoAnimate) or VideoScribe offers educators easy access to animations with just about $40 subscription fee a month. These applications already set up a massive library of animation assets including characters, backgrounds, and objects so anyone can animate! However, DIY software is lack of specialized details. For example, you want to build a medical course with software, it is really hard to visualize the symptoms of cancers. What the above software can do is to animate a conversation between a doctor and a patient.
Still want to have a customized animated educational video? Check this article:
3. Take up a lot of bandwidth
The downside of animations is that they are slow to load. They could take up lots of bandwidth due to the large file size. Video streaming platforms may help with the loading speed problem, but students still need to be equipped with a decent Internet connection. Believe it or not, a loading screen is more distracting than a poor quality animation. It is a common problem of video; the higher the definition, the slower the loading.
4. Not that beginner-friendly
There are beginner-friendly ways to produce animated educational videos. The most obvious way is to use the mentioned above software that just needs simple drag-and-drop actions to create a decent video. They work, but the problem is that they provide little branding benefits, and they can only be applied to general topics. However, if you want to deliver a complex concept or a whole course, the animation production process is not easy. So unless you have proper training in animating, you would find it difficult to create animations yourself. You can also use the earlier production process, which includes scripting and storyboarding, but illustrating and animating is challenging work even for professionals.
Animated educational videos and everything else on the course needs a lot of thoughtful consideration so that students receive the most benefit. They engage, motivate, and help students with better learning outcomes. They have drawbacks, but with thoughtful instructional design, you could improve animations to fit your students better.
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