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Animation Within eLearning – 5 Key Benefits

By 22nd July 2016 August 4th, 2016 eLearning Design and Development
Animation for eLearning

At Discover eLearning, we love creating bespoke animated content for our clients when it comes to developing engaging and thought-provoking digital learning. But what is it exactly that makes animation such an effective communication tool?

Well, Educational psychologist Richard Lowe (2004) wrote that there are two main reasons for  this—affective and cognitive. The affect process of an animation comes from the fact that the visual graphics are moving and therefore captures the viewers attention straight away. Many animations are colourful and designed to be light-hearted and entertaining, therefore we enjoy taking a break from the standard mundane documentation approach of digesting data and letting it unfold infront of our eyes.

A growing trend in informative videos is the use of a particular style of video called the Animated Infographic, where qualitative data and research can be easy digested and understood through the use of corresponding iconography or visual image. The cognitive process of an animation is achieved through the editing of the video in order to break content down in a way that the viewer can understand. The great thing about animation work is that depending on the audience, the video can be as in-depth or as broad as the creator chooses to make. Such informative animations have the ability to create a lasting impression in a learners mind of a process or behaviour that can then be practiced within the real world. Let’s now take a look at 5 key benefits that an animation can offer in eLearning:

1- Visualising things that are difficult to visualise in real life

Take for example video material that you may have seen explaining how red blood cells work, or the process of how a black hole is formed. These are all processes that are next to impossible to create through means of actual video footage, and to have someone explain these things with a blackboard and chalk would leave a lot to the imagination. Through animation however, we are able to recreate these events at a scale where the learner can clearly see and comprehend every moment and every detail, making the learning experience more rounded and thorough.

2- Visualising quantitative data

It can be quite boring to review numbers and to understand exactly what is happening in real terms when statistics are thrown at us. Static data visualisation techniques such as scatter diagrams and bar charts can help the process of digesting the key facts and trends quite quickly, but through animation we can do much more than this by potentially loading certain sections of a graph at a time to analyse key areas one-by one, or visualising the impact of data on actual events (e.g. at the same time as seeing the percentage of CO2 rising in the atmosphere, we see an animation of the polar ice caps starting to melt and disappear into the ocean)

3 – Digital Storytelling

Digital storytelling provides multiple entry points into learning, because we can approach a topic from many different angles and viewpoints. As well as presenting the key facts of a particular piece of content, we can shape that information into a story that comprises a journey through a process from start to finish, or perhaps create wholey new characters to take on the roll of inanimate objects that explain their own purpose. Take this clip from The Simpsons as a great example of this, whereby a Cowboy Atom character explains the process of making nuclear energy using rods of Uranium that are also animated and have fun and engaging to watch characteristics.

4 – Creating elements that can then be edited into interactive experiences or game based learning

Game based learning is one of the most effective digital learning styles in existence today, and whilst it is possible to create game based experiences using still graphics and photographs, by introducing animation we can create a more engaging overall experience, with key animation points taking place at certain points, such as if a learner chooses a wrong response to an interview technique question for example, that we would then see that animated response from the interviewer directed at the learner.

5 – Introducing characters that can be on the side of the learner, or challenge the learner

Typically, what you may see in a piece of digital storytelling learning is the introduction of two characters, one who will be knowledgeable on a particular subject, and another who doesn’t know the first thing but is full of questions and enthusiasm to ask more. The idea is to reflect the latter character within the learner as much as possible, to try and guess what questions the learner may have when given certain pieces of information, in order to get them to connect with the character, click around in the interface and engage with their learning experience more successfully.   If you want to bring bright, engaging and effective animation into your organisation’s online learning content, then please get in touch with Discover eLearning today, and we will be happy to demonstrate to you some of the amazing things that we can do.

Chris Hodgson

About Chris Hodgson

Chris Hodgson is a Digital learning Solutions Developer and Director of Discover eLearning Ltd. He supports SMEs and large firms through the process of integrating eLearning into their organisation. Chris has over 10 years experience working in Higher Education, Independent Training Provider Sector and Charity Sector learning and development.

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