by Olga Bedrina, Internet Communication Manager for Animatron, an online collaborative animation maker
According to the Visual Teaching Alliance, 90% of secondary students are visual learners, which means that using visual aids in class can dramatically improve learning and help students retain more from what they hear. While traditional whiteboards are still very helpful, educational technology has evolved greatly in recent years, offering educators a wide range of tools to keep students more engaged and ignite their passion for learning. In this regard, animation is the way to go.
So, why is animation so powerful?
- It resonates with students and makes them excited about learning. Students often do not feel like many school topics are relevant to them, so they zone out, and it’s difficult to bring them back on track (ask any teacher explaining the US Constitution to 9th graders!) Using animation allows teachers to stick to something students can associate themselves with, and it’s within human nature to stay focused and learn more when we see something relevant to us. It’s a great way to help students feel in control of the process. All students are creative; the big task of a teacher is to unleash creativity and put it in students’ hands. Using animation in the teaching/learning process helps students have that “Aha!” moment and makes them feel like real creators. 3.
- It’s a great way to help students feel in control of the process. All students are creative; the big task of a teacher is to unleash creativity and put it in students’ hands. Using animation in the teaching/learning process helps students have that “Aha!” moment and makes them feel like real creators. Animation is abstract. Let’s imagine you see a live picture of a house. You will probably start thinking whether you like the house, would you like to live in it or not, what color is the house, etc. However, when you see a cartoon picture of a house, you just see it as a concept, an idea of a house and everything it represents (e.g., family, childhood, a place to live, etc). In this sense, animation simplifies visual storytelling and makes it easier for students to abstract.
- Animation is abstract. Let’s imagine you see a live picture of a house. You will probably start thinking whether you like the house, would you like to live in it or not, what color is the house, etc. However, when you see a cartoon picture of a house, you just see it as a concept, an idea of a house and everything it represents (e.g., family, childhood, a place to live, etc). In this sense, animation simplifies visual storytelling and makes it easier for students to abstract.
As Laura Bates put it in her article on benefits of using animation in class, “Using animations is a great way to improve different skills of kids such as reading, writing, storytelling, decision making, problem-solving as well cognitive, social and innovative skills. It’s sure to facilitate learning of the kids and boost the way you are teaching”.
There are many ways how you can implement animation in the classroom.
When studying pioneers’ migration routes and trails, ask students to draw and animate them. Children remember things when they are unique and fun, so implement new tools and ideas to make learning engaging.
Another example would be to ask students to create a video presentation and tell their family story in a visual way. Encourage students to use their family photos, relevant music and video, to personalize the presentation.
My American Story by Emily Nguyen
Project American: My Story by Chloe Starbird and by Jesse Bray (Mr. Bray)
There are some processes, especially those in Physics, that are best illustrated with motion. Thus, use animation to demonstrate them or better yet, ask students to create a project and explain the topic. These are some ideas for studying Archimedes screw and a lever.
simple machines Copy 2 by Dmitry Skavish and Dmitry Skavish
Archimedes Screw by Dmitry Skavish
Some of the other ideas for using animation videos in class include the following:
- explaining the water cycle
- studying shadows
- getting acquainted with electric current
- getting acquainted with electric current
- telling students about Brownian motion
- studying types of friction
When checking the students’ knowledge on the subject after having covered new material, give students an option: whether they would like to write an essay on the topic or demonstrate their knowledge with an animated project. You will be surprised to see how excited the kids get about animation.
When studying a difficult topic, animation is great for engaging students into a conversation. For instance, when learning contractions, use animation to show what exactly that apostrophe in the phrase “I haven’t” stands for. When memorizing new words, ask students to make an animation demonstrating a new word or phrase. Once they finish, they own the word, which makes it so much easier for them to keep it in their minds.
Animation is also great for studying foreign languages. Ask students to make a cartoon and record voice-over to practice pronunciation and grammar.
Animation for Collaborative Learning
Most educators strive not only to teach figures and bare facts but also teach students how to think and solve problems. In this regard ability to work in a team is one of the most essentials skills students need to learn (in fact, it is also one of the 10 skills employers most want to see in employees, according to Forbes). Assignments like group projects can help build some of those skills; however, the traditional educational paradigm of teachers instructing students who are isolated at their desk doesn’t build up real collaborative skills.
Animation is great for collaborative learning and encouraging students to share the knowledge. Asking students to work on an animated project together is a wonderful way of encouraging them to learn from one another, exploring together and developing communication skills.
Keep It Diverse
Incorporating animation into the teaching/ learning process might be advantageous for both students and teachers. However, we should always keep in mind that just like with any other tool, animation is not the point of the lesson, it’s the vehicle that gets us there. Combine animation with other tools in your arsenal, and you will quickly notice how more engaged students are in class.