3.11 Animations

Animations and visual explanations

Explaining visually

Animations are useful to show how different parts of a process or idea relate to each other. They can be used to present information sequentially, with reveal or highlight effects, or illustrate a scenario. Presenting ideas that relate to processes or the physical world visually helps students to build mental models which more directly relate to the particular concept being explained. This reduces the liklihood of an incorrect mental model being formed from following text description alone (Schweppe, et al., 2015).

Beyond narrated PowerPoints

Whilst narrated PowerPoint slides can be a useful way to convey a lot of information, often these are lists of bullet points and are not engaging to watch. Instead, reduce the content on screen to one key point at a time and keep videos short to address a specific learning aim. You can then make the video more engaging by linking the key points using transitions and basic animations.

Video: PowerPoint Transitions (Click to Play via YouTube)

Once the slide deck is created you can then record the presentation using the Replay ‘At-Desk’ Recorder or your own preferred screencasting program.

The Replay Student Advice videos were created using this approach.

Alternatives to PowerPoint

There are many online tools that allow you to create animations. Some of these will require you to playback the video on their website, others allow you to export to YouTube or download as an MP4. Often, these platforms provide a free trial but these are limited in some way, often by keeping the more interesting or effective features locked to paid customers. To create an animation with these tools you have to think of your video as a storyboard, planning what the beginning, middle and end will be and using templates provided on the tool to piece your animation together.

PowToon is a third-party, unsupported platform that can be used to create similar, more lively animated videos. However, these are branded with the PowToon logo and include a short ‘jingle’ at the end. You may not wish to use PowToon for anything too serious or within professional contexts.

GoAnimate is another unsupported platform which you can use to create animations that illustrate role-playing scenarios. This may be useful to present discussions of topics, sensitive issues or approaches to handling inter-personal relationships.