Literature survey "B" - animation in education
Although the use of animation as a teaching medium is rare, it is becoming increasingly common to find animation itself being taught in Australia and elsewhere. Most of the Internet search results for the two keywords "Animation" and "Education" relate to teaching people how to animate.
Teaching children how to animate is even happening in the Primary school sector. The rationale for this revolves around the term multiliteracies. This is basically the acknowledgement that literacy has become a broader term than just reading and writing. "Technological, social, cultural and political change mean that young people need to be able to make sense of multiple communication modes, often simultaneously, and creatively communicate with a range of diverse audiences." (1) Maureen O'Rourke has devised a conceptual framework for understanding multiliteracies as follows:
|Dimensions of literacy||
Techniques, principles, composition strategies, technical, editing and production skills etc.
|Social and cultural||
Creating meaning, sense-making, drawing on contextual and experiential knowledge, making connections, understanding audience, ways of knowing and seeing, using own life experience and understanding of the world. Identifying what's worth pursuing in a human sense.
Reflecting on what worked, why, how it could be better. Identifying different interpretations and meaning and what influences are at work. Noticing the dominant. Noticing what's missing. Noticing power and effect. Identifying ways forward and how to improve. Audience reaction - was the intention communicated?
|Creative and innovative||
Using new learning to transform existing practices, new combinations, new ways of seeing and doing. Making a difference. Creativity and innovation.
The following discussion of animation in education has been organised under the various software applications that are currently being used to create animation in schools:
"Kahootz empowers students with the skills and tools to create their own media and connect them to a diverse, engaged audience. Kahootz is a powerful set of 3D multimedia tools that allows students and teachers to be creators, designers, inventors and storytellers. Kahootz is also an active online community". (2)
Kahootz has been issued to all government schools in Victoria. Staff have also been trained in the use of this software to create animated films. Unlike Flash where you start from scratch, Kahootz has several ready made environments for you to explore and edit. One of the films from Vermont Primary School's 2006 Short Film Festival was created using Kahootz as it can be exported as an AVI video file.
Stop Motion Pro
Stop Motion Pro is a program designed to take a series of digital photos and play them back as an animated video.
Vermont Primary School received a grant in 2006 for use in animation. This was from the Excellence and Innovation initiative for the acquisition of Stop Motion Pro software, 15 web cams and staff PD from Soundhouse in using Stop Motion Pro. Level 4 teachers, the visual arts teacher and myself devised a unit of work called "Animation in Space". Each grade was split into small groups of 2 or 3 children. These groups were then assigned a planet within the Solar System. This project was quite successful and the children were very keen to do their best work. Each child received a free DVD with all 40 films with their December report.
Schools without these resources can use freeware programs such as Monkey Jam to achieve similar results. The type of animations produced by software programs like Stop Motion Pro and Monkey Jam are classified as "Claymation". One major benefit of using claymation is in the area of group work. It is one instance where it is far more efficient to have at least two people in a group so one can trigger the camera using the computer mouse and another can manipulate the props. It works even better with a third person directing the whole process. Group work is often encouraged in education for the interpersonal skills that are developed.
Another one of the the films from Vermont Primary School's 2006 Short Film Festival was created using Stop Motion Pro as this too can be exported as an AVI video file.
Adobe Flash (formerly Macromedia Flash) is primarily being used in Secondary schools as it is more involved than the other programs. It interfaces well with HTML so it is widely used and well worth learning. Flash is what I used to create the 8 musical theory animations.
Microworlds and Logo are popular among many teachers for creating animations. This was part of my teacher training at Monash University in 1998. "Curriculum in Australia’s Public Schools is committed to the promotion of critical thinking, to the support of varied learning styles, and to the rights of equal access. MicroWorlds is a natural choice of software, embodying as it does, a process, and child-centred approach to learning".(3)
Microworlds is not as widely used anymore. One explanation for this involves the prevalence of laptops in many schools. "This imperative has meant a resurgence in technocentrism in the way laptops have been introduced and used in many of these schools. As a result, fluency with current office automation software has come to the fore as an educational goal, and displaced Logo and Microworlds in many children’s experience".(4)
Hypercard / Hyperstudio
Hypercard and Hyperstudio were some of the major forerunners for animation and interactivity. "In the early 1990s the education world was buzzing with multimedia talk. On the do-it-yourself front, HyperCard (1987) and HyperStudio (1989) were being used enthusiastically by students and educators to author their own multimedia projects and presentations." (5) These programs are still in use by many teachers and various web sites help maintain interest in ways to utilise them.
My first multimedia program was authored using Microsoft PowerPoint. The enable Electric Bass CD-ROM had various pages linked together in a non-linear way with embedded video and audio. This has now been updated as enable bass which was authored in HTML. The reason for changing to HTML was that the same functionality could be achieved using smaller file sizes.
Teachers don't need to be programmers to present information in a non-linear way. "Applications of computers for educational purposes should provide possibilities for authors (and teachers) to use several different knowledge presentation approaches with no additional programming knowledge required and without the use of complex tools." (6) Vermont Primary School won an Australian computer education award in 2003 for an interactive story called "The Hollow Stone". Each child in a Grade 3 class wrote their own page using PowerPoint and these pages were linked together in the style of a choose your own adventure book. Click here to enter this story.
The variety and quality of animation software has made animation a viable activity for students and teachers in many schools throughout the world. This practice will most likely continue to grow in quality and focus as resources expand and improve.
(1) O'Rourke, M. (2002) Engaging students through ICTs: A Multiliteracies Approach.
O'Rourke, M. (2002) Engaging students through ICTs: A Multiliteracies Approach.International Journal of Technologies for the Advancement of Knowledge and Learning. Vol. 4, No. 2.
(3) Richardson (1999:61)
(4) Richardson (1999:59)
(5) McLester (2005:9)
(6) Gutl (2003:232)