How to Use Animations for Learning
Moving pictures are hard to resist. But research shows when compared to static graphics, animations get mixed reviews as an effective learning medium. Fortunately there are ways to make animations more effective.
Types of Animation for Learning
There are many types of animation that can be used for instructional purposes, including:
- 2-D animation: Creating the illusion of motion by the rapid display of a sequence of static images or frames that minimally differ from one another.
- 3-D animation: Creating the illusion of moving objects rendered from 3-D wireframes. Based on mathematical algorithms, the objects can be rotated and moved over time
- Motion graphics: Moving graphical elements and text across the screen. This is what we create with certain authoring and presentation tools
- Transformations: Animations that depict changes without movement, such as color transformations (a person blushing) or lines changing from thin to thick (clogged arteries maybe?).
Stop-motion animation: Photographs of an object shown in a quick sequence to create the illusion of movement.
Reasons for Using Animation
Educational psychologist Richard Lowe (2004) writes that there are basically two main reasons for using instructional animations: affective and cognitive.
Animations attract and capture attention because motion is one of the primary attributes of a graphic that makes viewers take notice. Animations can also increase motivation because of their novelty. When they are humorous, they can create a positive affect. One newer approach is the animated information graphic (see an example from the Articulate community), which can be used for introductory explanations that may seem boring otherwise.