Technological progress has gone so far that now technology can be found in each aspect of our lives. Every day we use plenty of devices that we regard as normal and ordinary parts of our reality. No doubt there are a great number of novelties that advance our living and even enhance our mind possibilities.
There are many terms used to define an e-learning process – from online or internet learning to distance education. But what exactly is e-learning?
E-learning or electronic learning is the form of conventional learning that implies the use of digital resources. This type of learning facilitates methods of getting knowledge and improves the overall educational process. Basically, e-learning is training, learning, or education delivered online through a computer or any other digital device. It allows learners to study anytime and anywhere.
Before, people used mostly printed resources, but the rise of the internet and multimedia allowed educators to implement some novelties into the educational path. Nowadays the use of smartphones, computers, media, and the internet is not only used for entertainment but also serves as a necessary part of the educational process as well.
There also exist several additional technological capacities that usually go hand-to-hand with e-learning, ensuring the success, and one of them is an educational animation.
Previously, traditional animation was a highly effort-consuming and expensive product, which required specialized working techniques. It took a lot of time to convert static graphics into animation. Since then, the overall process has been simplified due to the advent of powerful graphic-oriented software. Contemporary technology allows the animation to be produced much more easily and cheaply than in former years.
What is more, there is an enormous number of accessible tools that can be used even by non-professionals without the need for specialist expertise. It makes an animation attractive and accessible, and now educators can easily employ it to make the learning process more vivid, interactive, engaging, and comprehensible.
The term “educational animation” refers to any animated image that is used to teach and learn. When you can’t see what you’re dealing with, sometimes it’s difficult to understand and commit the idea to your memory properly. Being implemented into the learning process, animation provides a visual representation of concepts and allows learners to scan information straight from the display without any complex intellectual operations.
As a matter of fact, the human brain is predominantly visual. Moreover, visualization is one of the most important principles of teaching methodology. Using images, video, and animation together with a text stimulates brain activity and gives a clearer understanding of a problem. Under these circumstances, the retention of knowledge significantly increases. This makes animation the perfect format for delivering important educational content.
Still, some educators doubt the effectiveness of animations in the learning process.
Various research studies propose that animation has no effect or even has a negative effect on learning. Also, they suggest that animation simplifies brain activity as the learners are provided with everything they need. Some think that animation, on the contrary, stimulates mind activities and motivates learners.
In general, it can’t be concluded that animations are either effective or not effective. It depends on the psychological characteristics of each learner: visual perception and preferable manner of cognition.
Nonetheless, there are some significant benefits of educational animation that need to be considered:
1. Animation provides detailed information and explanation of complex ideas
Sometimes the textual explanation isn’t enough and this is where visualization comes in. While text forces the brain to produce images, animation and graphics display them right away. It fastens the process of understanding and simplifies the complex meaning of some ideas, making the overall topic more digestible and comprehensible.
2. Animation boosts concentration
The average attention span has shortened considerably in recent years. That is why one of the most challenging tasks is to keep the students’ attention throughout the whole learning process. Good animation can evoke interest and keep learners focused. A series of vivid short animations are much more appealing than hundreds of words.
3. Animation boosts engagement and motivation
Studying only through text materials can be quite complicated and tiresome. The animation is what makes the learning process more colorful and entertaining. It is a powerful tool of engaging and communicating with learning audiences. Animation can also be used to encourage further discussion and highlight issues that require action. It enables learners to invent and explore multiple solutions to a problem.
4. Animation helps to retain knowledge
Visualization is a good way to remember something. Each time you think of a concept you try to picture it in your head. Animation provides ready comprehensive pictures for any concepts.
5. Animation saves time
As a matter of fact, one animation can substitute a thousand words, it compresses information and puts it into visuals. Animation accelerates the learning process exponentially, saving learning time. Moreover, a shorter learning time conveniently fits our short attention span, meaning more engagement and effective knowledge retention.
6. Animation provides a fresh and exciting experience
The notion that studying is tedious and boring loses its sense when the animation comes into action. The animation is an incredible storytelling device that can evoke emotions. It can breathe life into a traditional lesson structure, making it exciting, fresh and sometimes funny. Humor is a very effective tool that can engage learners in the process.
These are the benefits of properly applied animation. Poorly made animations can be ineffective, distracting, confusing, and even damage the learning process. That’s why it’s important to be careful while implementing animations and consider the following tips:
– Keep the animation short
Good animation should last no more than 3-5 minutes. Our attention span is short and animation should fit the boundaries of learner’s attention to be useful. Otherwise, the viewers will not be interested in continuing to watch.
– Use both images and audio/text.
The most captivating and compelling visuals are those that are complemented with text or audio. Audio has the power to create an emotional ambiance that immerses learners. You can use background music or even background narration. It will clear up any confusion about what’s going on in the animation. Text on the animation like subtitles or captions increases the learner’s knowledge retention.
– Don’t use too much text.
A wordy frame of the animation is not captivating and compelling, it’s rather distracting. There’s no point in trying to make learners read a bunch of texts in a 5-minute animation. Instead, keep information in the form of one-liners, keywords, or pictures. That will be more effective.
– Use interesting design.
It’s important to be as creative as possible while making an animation. Try to avoid simple and neutral colors. The animation has to be captivating and bright, otherwise, learners are not going to enjoy it and may lose interest. But do not overdo and use sophisticated and puzzling designs. Keep things simple, but attractive.
– Choose elements that evoke right emotions
It’s important to remember that every element of your animation is going to have an impact on the tone of the learning, from the background music and sound effects to the color palette and script. All these components must align with the goals and contribute to the specific emotional atmosphere.
Animations are effective if only they convey the right tone. If you are dealing with a serious subject matter, a simple and humorous animation will fail to denote the gravity of the concept.
– Encourage online learners to interact with animation.
Animations are powerful, but they can make the learning process be rather passive sometimes. Online learners simply have to sit back and watch as the story unfolds. But you can make your animations more interactive and engaging. Involve thought-provoking questions or give the learners some control over the situation: to stop, pause, rewind, and fast forward the animation. Therefore, the process of learning will be interesting and stimulating.
In conclusion, educational animation is a vast concept that comprises technology, psychology, and art. Animation adds some new vectors to a traditional path of online education. It improves the learning process and helps learners to master the subject easily. It also allows educators to upgrade their techniques and expand the horizons of an educational mechanism.