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Using Educational Animations in E-Learning

3 minutes

Animated cartoons and moving images have captivated viewers’ imaginations ever since they were first invented. As one animation company writes, “From the moment an infant is able to focus on a moving object, the ability to enjoy animation is born.” However, dynamic images can not only be used to entertain, but also to teach effectively, and they specifically lend themselves to use in an e-Learning context.

What is educational animation?

The term “educational animation” can refer to any animated image that is used to teach and learn. It could be as simple as making an arrow move on a diagram or as complex as making your own complete cartoon film on your topic. However, many educators are finding they can create animations between these two extremes to help their students master a concept. Using the Custom Animation effects in PowerPoint is one accessible way to get images or parts of images to move. Biologist Danton O’Day writes that he was able to create high-quality animations of cell biology in less than one day using PowerPoint. Not only are such animations helpful in traditional classrooms, but any animation created in PowerPoint can readily be converted to an e-Learning course using a tool such as iSpring.

What are the benefits of educational animation for e-Learning?

<p< p<br=””> Of course, moving images can help capture and sustain a viewer’s attention and make learning more fun. Not only that, however, but they can also help academically. Scholar Richard Lowe argues that educational animations are especially effective when they replace static images that attempt to show motion and change. For example, scientific processes such as human breathing, the cycles of the moon, the rotation of the earth, or the reactions of proteins in a living cell were traditionally portrayed in textbooks through static images. Sometimes this required a confusing array of dotted lines or pointing arrows to try to convey what was going on. The learner wasted their mental energy on trying to decode the image, rather than using all of it to learn the material being taught. A carefully designed animation can clearly demonstrate a dynamic process and make learning much easier.

A static image is much easier to understand when it’s replaced by an educational animation like this one: