When most people hear the word “animation,” they think of cartoons and Disney movies. While these qualify, they aren’t the only type of animation out there. Educators have found that animated content can be a valuable tool for students of all ages.
Many LMS platforms offer features related to animation and similar visual content. Users can incorporate videos featuring animated characters and graphs. Some offer animated whiteboards that demonstrate ideas and concepts. Does this training medium have a positive impact on the learner experience?
Understanding Educational Animation
Any animated image that is utilized to teach or instruct is considered educational animation. The category is vast. Information can be conveyed in the form of a traditional cartoon with amusing situations and colorful characters. It can also be more serious in nature with animated graphs and line charts to help show relationships between concepts.
There is much room between each side of the spectrum, creating nearly limitless potential when it comes to creativity and originality. Popular software PowerPoint offers a custom animation effects feature that can be built into presentations.
Danton O’Day is a biologist with the University of Toronto at Mississauga. He wrote in a 2006 article that he was able to use animation to teach cell biology with PowerPoint: “Here I outline the principles and sequence of steps for producing high-quality PowerPoint animations in less than a day that are suitable for teaching in high school through college/university.”
Animation gives educators an effective learning tool with complete flexibility. Scenes, objects, and characters can be created, and any action or sequence can be presented ranging from ultra-realistic to total fantasy.
The Benefits of Teaching with Animation
Does animation offer any teaching benefits? And are those benefits limited by the age of the viewer? When properly utilized, animation is an excellent tool. It can be tailored to all ages and used to demonstrate any concept.
A study published in 2016 by Scientific Research found that student performance improved across three major subjects when they studied with animation. Students were tested on math subjects. The control group averaged 7.25 on the pre-test and 8.75 on the post-test. The experimental group used instructional animation to study. They scored an average of 7.32 on the pre-test and 9.48 on the post-test. The study concluded that “animation has played a positive role in felicitating students learning in Mathematics.”
The study went on to state that “With the help of computer-mediated communication techniques, especially by using tools like animation, teachers were able to give distinct learning experience to the students.”
Animation doesn’t have to be overly complex to have an impact. According to professor Richard Lowe with the Curtin University of Technology, animating static images can be beneficial. He explained that “When students are given static pictures that are meant to represent dynamic subject matter, they are faced with the cognitive burden of having to mentally animate the content. However, well-designed animations can eliminate this burden so that the learner thinking processes are freed up and can be devoted to educationally worthwhile activity such as the development of understanding.”
Even relatively simple animations can allow students to apply more of their brain’s processing power to digesting and understanding the material.
Who Should Use Animation with their LMS?
Animation-related features are available in many of today’s learning management systems. Even those that don’t work directly with animation will usually include the ability to add video content. This gives users a way to incorporate animation into their course material. But who would be best served by this type of educational resource?
Benefits of Animation for Younger Students
The benefits for children and teenagers may seem obvious. Kids love watching cartoons, so naturally, they will be drawn to animated educational material. What are the benefits for students in the younger age group?
- Offers A Multi-Sensory Experience – Animations allow students not just to read but to see and hear characters as they demonstrate concepts. This also creates an opportunity to discuss the material with teachers or fellow students.
- Separates Behavior From the Person – Animations allow young students to observe their own behavior while taking themselves out of the equation. They can watch content and understand the effect of actions taken by the character. These concepts can be applied in their lives and allows them to view with an unbiased eye and open mind.
- Students Often Imitate What They Watch – Younger students are especially fond of imitation. This creates an opportunity to teach good habits or core educational concepts to learners. Show positive behaviors or scientific ideas that they can replicate to further understanding and exploration.
- Keeps and Holds Student Attention – Animation is a great way to get attention from young learners. They are also far more likely to continue paying attention when watching a cartoon.
Benefits of Animation for Adult Learners
Some organizations may dismiss the benefits of using animation to teach adults. They could be missing out on a highly beneficial training tool. What are the benefits of using animation with adult learners?
- Reserve Brain Power for Understanding – As Robert Lowe outlined, animated content allows the learner to focus more of their brain power on understanding the material. Concepts with moving parts are shown, so the viewer doesn’t have to mentally bridge the gap to see what is being taught.
- Allows the Viewer to Visualize Material – Visualization can lead to full understanding. Along with reducing the effort needed to process material, animation will allow educators to show what they are teaching. This can help prevent misunderstanding, so all learners in the class are on the same page.
- Varied Content Improves Retention – Studies have shown that animation helps students retain information. Better knowledge retention means a more effective training program which can save businesses money.
- Inspires Conversation – Adult learners can benefit from peer-to-peer or student-to-educator conversations. Many LMS platforms include chats and forums. Animation provides a conversation starter to spark informative conversations about a subject. It can also be used to pose questions that are answered through post-viewing discussions.
5 Tips for Using Animation in Your Training Program
If you plan to add animation to your training toolbox, then there are a few things you should know to get the most out of this educational resource:
- Focus on one message or idea. You can add animations to teach other concepts later.
- Only use relevant information – don’t incorporate any unrelated details.
- Take complex information and simplify it using audio and video.
- Keep animations short and to the point. Small segments are easier to digest.
- Create a rich story with attention-grabbing visuals.
The eLearning industry has made it possible for just about anyone to incorporate animation into their training program. It can often be done without a high budget or advanced technical knowledge. Check out available LMS platforms now to find ways to harness the power of animation.