Animation is an excellent way to present new information. It also allows students to demonstrate evidence of their own learning. The post-test data for all six viewers improved greatly after viewing the animations.
The following merits of teaching with animation are from the Centre for Animation Pedagogics: (1)
• Animation is popular among children
• Animation makes it possible to be in control of the film because one works on each picture on the filmstrip – each move and cut is planned thoroughly which makes it possible to reflect and analyse.
• Animation can be included in a regular teaching situation because it does not take up a lot of space.
• Animation and imagination are closely connected which makes it possible to use animation even with the youngest pupils
• An animation production can combine the physical and the virtual worlds.
• Animation strengthens the creative mind.
We would normally define animation as a succession of moving images. As was argued in the introduction to research issue, a more inclusive term for educational purposes is variant graphics where various images are viewed in succession. This is a more accurate definition because films are also moving images. Variant images is also a more inclusive term as it would include common presentation styles such as PowerPoint presentations.
An important element of variant images is that there is also a constant image. Unlike a traditional lecture where an occasional diagram might be presented, the idea of a constant image implies that there is always something to look at other than the teacher. This cannot guarantee engagement but it certainly helps.
High tech - Low tech - No tech
If we accept that animation is an effective and efficient way to teach, how does this inform what actually transpires in the classroom? To mandate that animation should be used as much as possible would be to miss the point that students need to be active participants in their own learning. Being bombarded with information would soon overload them and they would not necessarily be able to retain or apply what they have learnt. I would therefore propose that animation is used as a teaching style for both teachers and students, i.e. students should be encouraged to create their own animations.
Design is a crucial element when creating animations. Design goes further than merely planning the content of an animation. Every single element is carefully considered, critiqued and revised to produce the best possible work. Because each frame is crafted with such care and reflection, the merits of having students apply the disciplines of design in their own work have obvious benefits in terms of quality and skill development.
Students could be given research topics in small groups where they are required to present their work as an animation. To allow for the differences in the classroom teacher and technology resources available, I would propose at least three categories of sophistication:
High tech: The students create and present stand-alone animations. These could be created using Flash, Stop Motion Pro, PowerPoint, etc.
Low tech: The students create a series of visuals which are explained in person like a traditional PowerPoint presentation.
No tech: The students create a series of posters which are explained in order much like a book.
Taking the emphasis off the actual movement and focusing on the order and content of the information being presented makes this medium accessible for all teachers. By encouraging children to present information as an animation the teacher can stay within their first level of expertise which is supervising the information itself and the organisation thereof.
There is also the opportunity for content to go from no tech to low tech by digitising the posters using a camera or scanner. Low tech can also move to high tech by simply recording the presentation on video. Those students who do produce work in low or high tech formats have the advantage of being able to publish their work through avenues such as the Internet. In this way there could be mutual sharing of information which is already happening in some schools. The option of publishing also motivates students to present their best work.
When should animation be taught?
I am not suggesting that variant graphics should always be used for teaching. It is merely one medium of teaching and learning that is very powerful and yet often overlooked.
Reasons to maintain the use of other teaching styles include:
Directions for further study
It is my intention to pursue further study in this area of animated music education. The two main differences between this present and future study are:
1. To design interactive animations where the user interacts with the animation using the computer keyboard. These are outlined in the Interactivity section.
2. To work with children instead of adults.
There are no particular gender issues in current research on animation in education. If anything, animation levels the playing field for both sexes. With no disadvantage over strength or access, boys and girls who are struggling with other literacies are just as likely to become skilled in animation as anyone else.
(1) Pedersen (2005:5)