Animation is a sequencing of 2D and 3D images used to create an illusion of movement on the screen. Animation in essence is an optical illusion. It can be done in several different ways. Motion pictures and video programming are the most common uses of animation. When animation is used appropriately and designed well it can enhance learning.

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1. Definition of Animation
2. A Brief History of Animation
3. Types of Animation
4. Summary of the Literature on Animation
  • 4.1 Using Animation Appropriately in the Classroom
  • 4.2 Segmented vs. Continuous Animation
  • 4.3 Animation and Gender
4. Resources
5. References

A Brief History of Animation

The first animation can be seen in cave painting. These paintings showed that even then people were trying to convey movement through pictures. In the 1800’s flip books became popular which demonstrated another way to give the illusion of movement with images. No one person has been credited with discovering animation but Georges Melies was the first person to accidentally use stop animation in the movies. After a serious of other film makers trails and errors animation became increasingly popular in movies. Warner Brothers, Walt Disney, and Pixar are some of the legendary names associated with animation. It is not only a popular film technique today but also an important teaching tool that is used to capture audience.

Types of Animation

There are many different kinds of animation. The first is traditional animation which is hand drawn. There is also stop motion animation which is created by moving physical objects. There is computer animation that can be created on the computer using a variety of techniques. There is also 2D and 3D animation. Each of these techniques can be used to create the illusion of movement.

Traditional Animation
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Computer Animation
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Using Animation Appropriately in the Classroom

Animation can be a great resource in the classroom, but an important point that the research discusses is that not all animation is a helpful teaching tool. While there is a lot of great animation out, there that does in fact enhance student learning, not all of it is useful. Textbook companies are increasingly adding complimentary animated resources for students to use but teachers need to look over these resources to find out if they are truly beneficial. The research suggests that if you follow the rules on how to detect valuable animation you can impact student learning. Animation can help students learn information faster and also increases long term memory retention.

The rules to making sure that you use animation correctly are as follows. First of all you must make sure the animation is not to long as that can be distracting for students. This goes hand in hand with the research that segmented animation is more beneficial to students then continuous animation is. The next rule in making sure that animation will benefit students is that it is appropriate for the student’s educational level and for the topic. Avoid animations with too much information or extraneous details. Make sure that the terminology used is specific and clear. This helps student’s link images with terms. It is especially beneficial when the term is placed adjacent to the corresponding picture. It is also very effective when terms shown are also spoken at the same time as the term appears. Informal narration over animation is said to enhance the benefit of animation. Simple interactivity is also important to keeping students engaged in the animation. Following these rules can help increase the impact of animation on student learning.

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Segmented vs. Continuous Animation

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Research shows that animation when used properly can enhance student learning. In a study about animation interactivity’s impact on novice students researchers found that students who were unfamiliar with the material they were learning when assessed had higher scores when taught with interactive animation then those who did not get to learn the material with interactive animation. Another study found that students benefited more from lessons where teachers used teacher controlled segmented-animation versus teacher controlled continuous animation. Segmenting the animation allowed for the students to gain a clearer knowledge of what the animation was simulating. In other words when using animation in the classroom it is best to stop and discuss the animation before moving forward especially, as this study shows, if you are working with students who have little prior knowledge on the topic.

Animation and Gender

The research also discusses that animation affects male and female students differently. Although, past research has suggested that females benefit less from animation then male’s current findings are suggesting that this is not in fact true. Males and females just benefit from animation in different ways. This new research will help to overcome sexed based differences as animations are used often in technology and science fields that are currently male dominated.

In one study the only significant difference between males and females on the assessment was that males did better on application questions when they had been shown animation and not just graphics alone. Females on the other hand did the same on the application questions regardless of the presentation type. Overall, the research suggests that both benefit but in different ways, therefore the goal is to cater the mode of presentation to the sex to attain the highest benefit.


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This site claims to be the worlds largest resource of free animation. Check it out to spruce up your lessons!
http://www.animationlibrary. com/

Check out the "How we do it" tab and see how Pixar uses animation to create movies

This site offers an online animation teaching kit

This site offers some great ideas on how to bring animation into the classroom

Brian Pop offers amazing animated videos on a variety of topics that are sure to enhance your lessons

This site offers free animated clip art


Alessi, Stephen M., and Trollip, Stanley R., “Multimedia for Learning,” Methods and Development, 3rd ed.

Mohamad Ali, A. (2010). Effects of Teacher Controlled Segmented-Animation Presentation in Facilitating Learning. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 19(4), 367-378. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

O'Day, D. H. (2010). Animations Are Dynamic, Effective Tools for Science Teaching: If You Just Follow the Rules!. Journal of College Teaching & Learning, 7(12), 19-25. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Rebetez, C., Betrancourt, M., Sangin, M., & Dillenbourg, P. (2010). Learning from Animation Enabled by Collaboration. Instructional Science: An International Journal of the Learning Sciences, 38(5), 471-485. Retrieved from EBSCOhost

Wang, P., Vaughn, B. K., & Liu, M. (2011). The Impact of Animation Interactivity on Novices' Learning of Introductory Statistics. Computers & Education, 56(1), 300-311. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Created By: Lauren Moses