Literature survey "A" - teaching with animation

At the commencement of this research I was only aware of animation being used in the teaching of science. My own High school experience in the 1980s exposed me to animations in two areas:

1. Astronomy. Objects such as the planets collectively are too big to be viewed through video and their relative orbits are too slow.

2. Chemistry. On an atomic level, electrons etc. are too small to be seen through video.

Both of these animations were shown as films. The common element between them is that the subject material could not be shown in any other way as this is phenomena you can't ordinarily see.

In 2000 it was noted that computer simulations or modelling for first year chemistry students would be invaluable as it "bridges the passivity of textbooks". (1) It was also noted that to actually do this was too steep a learning curve as the assumed technology was to program using the C++ computer language. Now that software such as Macromedia Flash (now Adobe Flash) has become more common this ideal has been realised. The Iowa State University Chemistry department is an excellent resource due to the way they have incorporated animation into their department. Click on the metals and solutions tabs on the following animation to use this chemistry experiment.

The following animation is a simulation that shows salt dissolving in water. Simulation literally means to "make like". It is worth noting that the most popular computer game of all time is "Sim City". In this the user creates their own city and assumes the role of Town Planner. Games are dealt with later in this page.

Animation in the courtroom

Education is often seen as an activity that takes place in the classroom. A recent use of animation involves the courtroom as new companies such as Trial Image ( have arisen for the sole purpose of creating and licensing medical animations for use in the courtroom. Once again, the rationale behind this is that animations are more engaging and persuasive than diagrams or static models alone.

Knowledge bank - Podagogy

Through my work for Knowledge Bank in 2006, I became aware of Andrew Douch's work on podcasts. A podcast is an audio (sometimes video) file which can be played back at the user's leisure. Common podcasts are interviews or concerts which people listen to for entertainment but in Andrew's case they were classroom lectures. He has incorporated podcasts into his teaching at Wanganui Park Secondary College. The Podagogy video that was produced for Knowledge Bank contains various interviews with students articulating the benefits of podcasts. These can be summarised as:

1. Portability. The pod component of podcasting comes from the Apple iPod but any MP3 player can be used to listen to podcasts. Podcasts are normally downloaded off the Internet. They can also be listened to on the computer on which they are downloaded. The concept of downloading lectures is not new but the rapid uptake of portable MP3 technology has made this option quite appealing as students can listen to podcasts while walking the dog or taking public transport.

2. Accessibility: Students can listen to podcasts as many times as they like without the stigma of having to ask for further assistance. They can also pause the podcast when they need to take a break or think an issue through. Accessibility also extends to distance education as anyone with an Internet connection can access files.

My reason for including podcasts here is in answer to a question about lessons that require diagrams or visuals.

This Electronic whiteboard video is an extract from podagogy answering this question. The result is animation as you see the teacher interact with an electronic whiteboard whilst explaining genetics to the students.

An additional example involving animation was created using a PowerPoint slide.

Most MP3 devices don't play videos but there are several that do so this technology is becoming more widely adopted. Many mobile phones are also capable of playing videos.

The Le@rning Federation

The Le@rning Federation (TLF) is an initiative of the Australian and New Zealand governments. It is situated in the Curriculum Corporation building in Melbourne. They produce digital resources and learning objects for P-10 in the curriculum areas of:

"Learning objects are 'chunks' of digital material - for example, graphics, text, audio, animation, interactive tools - designed to engage and motivate student learning. They provide opportunities for multimodal learning not normally possible in the standard classroom because of complexity, safety, time or cost." (2)

Most of TLF's learning objects are Flash animations. Examples can't be included in this thesis due to their copyright restrictions but they did provide me with CDs in all 6 learning areas. Having viewed these I can say that they could be classified as Learning environments.

CAI, CBL and E-Learning

Computer assisted instruction (CAI), computer based learning (CBL) and E-Learning are all different terms to describe the process of people learning with computers. Web-based courses are often in multiple choice format as they can be corrected more easily. The other reason is that web-based learning is often used for inservice training. In such cases the actual score isn't as important as making it through the content as such courses are a requirement for updating knowledge across various professions.

The following diagram illustrates the various types of E-Learning functionality. Once I noticed that it was looking like a face, I moved the WWW down where a mouth would be to make it easier to remember.

The rationale behind this diagram is:

Educational effectiveness

The online encyclopaedia Wikipedia has a very interesting section on Educational animation (4). After listing the basic advantages of moving images and how advances in software have encouraged teachers to create their own animations, other issues involved in animating are raised:

Educational games

The defining element of what constitutes a game appears to be the element of winning. Winning can be against an opponent or against yourself by improving your score or decreasing the time taken to achieve something. An activity is merely something you do. All games are activities but not all activities are games:

The objective in all educational games is learning. The quality and educational value of computer games varies widely. A search for "musical games" on Google produces 139 million results. Some of the results for the musical games search were not computer based at all such as the BBC which had a name game using clapping and syllables: e.g. Char-lie. "Musical computer games" brings it down to only 40 million!

I have found examples of games using the three categories of good (helpful), bad (unhelpful) and novelty (format is only for novelty value):

Good games has some useful activities that are designed for children. "The goal of this web site is to provide an environment for children to experience creative play in the creation of music, with the same ease they have been able to enjoy with toys, drawing tools, building blocks, puppets, etc." (5) These fall into the broader category of games as there is no element of winning or even scoring.

A true musical game can be found at the ear training site It allows the user to set many variables such as scales, intervals, etc. and even the sound that is used to listen to these notes. Ear training can be tedious so this is a great site for unlimited, free practice.

Another good game is This is based on a well known memory game where cards are momentarily turned over when you click on them. In this particular incarnation of the game, musical notes are produced when you click on each card. The user has to be able to discern when two notes are identical and also remember where they were found. The element of winning involves finding all of the pairs with the minimum number of clicks.

Bad games

The worst activity I have found was to do with learning basic guitar chords (although they called it a game) It is interesting that this is found on the same site as a good game illustrating how much variation there is in quality on the web. In this activity, lines make up a grid which doesn’t look like a guitar fingerboard. This is really confusing as lines are normally used as strings in chord diagrams (see my section on 100 common chords). It must be assumed that whoever made this doesn't play guitar. Using this activity would actually be detrimental to learning as conventions are ignored and replaced with poorly designed graphics. Some of the chords are also wrong.

Novelty games

Vernon's maths game is no different from a conventional maths worksheet other than the fact that it is on a computer. Vernon is a mascot at Vermont Primary School. I made this game from a freeware Java application for Math's Week in 2002. It is just a series of basic, random arithmetic questions as the clock counts down.

Centre for Animation Pedagogics - The Leonardo Project

Some of the most relevant work I've been able to find on the use of animation in teaching is from the Leonardo project . The Leonardo project is a 2-year project (2006-2007) to develop a teacher training manual on teaching with animation. Their 8 page brochure is most informative. You can read this by clicking on the cover page.

I have also summarised this booklet as follows:

The aim of the project is to make teaching with animation an integrated part of the European school system along with the more traditional ways of teaching. The inclusion of animation will provide more variety in the teaching methods and in that way promote different types of learning.

"For the past 20 years, the technical conditions for including moving pictures as a way of teaching in the European school system have been present – and the increasing technical development is continuously making it easier. The reason why moving pictures still do not play a significant part in the teaching methods is the lack of pedagogic, methodology, and the required training of the teachers. There are no traditions or pedagogies in this field, which is why the development of a teacher-training manual including didactic and methodology for using the moving picture’s language is crucial". (6)

Multimedia, animation and music

“Multimedia is the integration of sound, text, graphics, pictures and video in a digital format”. (7) Animation is multimedia in it’s most heightened form. “Incorporating these media elements into interactive computer environments provides a rich educational resource to support music instruction. This combination of multimedia environments is in and of itself a new art form.” (8)

Traditionally, music theory books have utilised diagrams, photos, sheet musical examples and text. My rationale for the use of animation is that it presents the same information more efficiently and is easier to understand when visualised.

In music technology, there are 6 basic areas of competency:

1/ Electronic musical instruments (e.g. Keyboard)
2/ Music production (e.g. MIDI)
3/ Music notation software (e.g. Sibelius)
4/ Technology-assisted learning (e.g. enable Keyboard)
5/ Multimedia (Web pages, digital cameras)
6/ Productivity tools (e.g. Computers, networks)

Devising my 8 musical theory animations required an understanding of all 6 of these areas. Electronic instruments and MIDI were used to create the soundtracks. The graphics were generated using notation software. Computers were used to assemble and deliver the resulting animations.

There is no entry for "animation" in either the "Encyclopedia of Education and Technology" (10) or in Colwell (11). Although I have listed many good examples of animation as a teaching medium, this thesis appears to be the first application of animation in music education. The use of animation in music education was inevitable.


(1) Brown (2000:25)

(2) The Le@rning Federation brochure "Learn" (2006) Melbourne.

(3) accessed 25/01/2007.

(4) accessed 25/01/2007.

(5) accessed 12/02/2007.

(6) Pedersen (2005:4)

(7) Rudolph (2005:10)

(8) Ibid, (2005:11)

(9) Ibid (2005:2f)

(10) Kovalchick, A. & Dawson, K. (2004). Education and Technology - An Encyclopedia. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO.

(11) Colwell, R. & Richardson, C., (Eds) (2002). The New Handbook of Research on Music Teaching and Learning, New York: Oxford.

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