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Noelene Callaghan

My Blog

My Blog

Animating the classroom

Posted on 22 July, 2014 at 4:55

Some teachers are contemplating how to liven up class activities or your students assignments. One easy and effective way of doing this is by embedding animations into your teaching and learning programs. There are many animation programs available that can be used by students of any age and of any ability. Moreover, there are programs out there that are suitable for any teacher, regardless of your ICT skill or time constraints to learn a new technological tool.


So why use animation anyway? Animation has proven to be a useful tool for engaging students and illustrating difficult concepts. Animations liven class room lessons and assignments and can even be used as a teaching and learning tool for distance education. That is, if your school uses Moodle, Edmodo or any other Learning Management Software, uploading animations to further explain concepts to students could be a great alternative to basic text on a website. But animations are not just a tool that can be used by teachers, they can be used by students to present their work innovatively.


Additionally animation is a great vehicle that helps students better understand storytelling and sequencing ideas, whether in words or pictures. Simple animation techniques are fun, hands-on projects that incorporate play, creativity and collaboration. Because the underlying processes are the same as for video, animation projects are a powerful way to help students understand and prepare for more sophisticated media projects



What types of animation can I use?


1. Flipbooks

Flipbooks are a type of animation made with multiple sheets of paper, showing a series of pictures that change gradually from one page to the next. Flipping the pages creates the illusion of movement for the viewer because of the persistence of vision phenomenon. The way it works is that you create a series of images on paper that are almost the same as one another, but not quite. Then 'flip' the pages rapidly and you get the impression of an animation. For example, get a small blank note book with perhaps 10 or more sheets. You can use the top corner of the pages to flip rapidly through the complete set. In the top corner draw a simple stick figure with the arm changing slightly. This is a great tool to introduce the concept of animation to younger or less capable students. Additionally, there are now ‘flipbook’ websites and apps that can be used to create digital versions of flipbooks. They are extremely simple to use and allow students to take photos page by page making it an activity that can be completed in a short amount of time.



2. Phenakistoscopes

Phenakistoscopes are low-tech animation devices that are often referred to as "animation wheels." Teaching this technique early in your animation unit can provide students a valuable foundation in the perceptual and mechanical concepts underlying animation. Animation wheels also enhance student appreciation of contemporary animation techniques and introduces the concept of looping.


How do our eyes see movement? The human eye has sensors that retain an image for a moment, so the brain continues to perceive an image for a fraction of a second after the image has passed. If the eye sees a series of still images very quickly one picture after another, with a tiny break in between to register each image, then the images will appear to move because they “overlap” in the brain. Our eyes cannot perceive the difference between separate images, so we are tricked into thinking we have seen movement. A phenakistoscope uses ‘looping’ which is movement that repeats itself continuously without ending.



3. Stop Motion

Stop motion is a powerful animation technique that makes static objects appear to be moving. Creating stop motion draws attention to placement, framing, direction and speed of movement. There are many types of stop motion techniques, in both 2-D and 3-D media, such as hand drawings and Claymation. Students begin by brainstorming their ideas and recording their ideas and thoughts of what interactions and action will take place. Most teachers prefer to start with scripts, a storyboard that is completely textual. Writing descriptions of the action helps to determine how and in what order every shot will become animated later in the process. Storyboarding is a major component to any animation project because it ensures that ideas are well developed before production, and saves time by anticipating problems. The purpose of the storyboard is to visually plan out the entire animation. Here is where students begin to think about the “camera work” by showing every shot or important transition in the animation. Storyboards should be required for all stop motion projects.


Stop motion requires a camera or video device to expose single or multiple frames of images that, when run at normal speed, appear to represent continuous movement. You can set up by connecting a computer to video camcorder, digital still camera, or a webcam. When using a video recording device to compose shots, keep the camera steady by using a tripod or animation stand. Your computer needs current software that supports single frame capture



4. Pixilation

Pixilation is a specialized technique for animating people that promotes collaboration and peer group relations. A stationary camera records a posed human subject. Between captures, the subject moves to a new position. The process is slow and requires great patience and concentration. It is best to have a class set of cameras to complete a pixilation activity as students will need to take many, many photos with subtle movement. When this is put together using either Microsoft Movie Maker or stupeflix (an online animation creator).


Pixilation is a great task to complete using collaborative teamwork. Essentially, collaboration promotes peer group relations in the interaction between students and gives them more responsibility for their own learning. Group work helps students build on social and decision-taking skills.



Pedagogies associated with teaching animation:


Collaboration promotes peer group relations in the interaction between students and gives them more responsibility for their own learning. Group work helps students build on social and decision-taking skills. Teamwork helps students learn constructive ways to communicate and share ideas. Because the animation process is so very time intensive, students begin to recognise that producing longer or more complex projects requires expertise and assistance from numerous people to get the job done. A key feature of collaborative animation tasks is the assignment of roles amongst students. Allow students to select their roles within the group. Possible roles may include Director, Writer, Character Producer, Prop and Set designer, Cameraperson.


Multi Level Teaching allows for participants at many different levels of education to teach and learn from one another and collaborate on animation projects. All participating students co-learn and co-teach one another about animation production and pedagogy. These skills are particularly important in creating animations as it permits each student can bring a unique set of skills and interests to the process and contributes something special to the shared experience.


Peer tutoring is a strategy for teaching and learning that invites more experienced or knowledgeable students to teach novice students the skills and understandings they have acquired. Peer tutoring can empower and help students share expertise and reinforce what they have learned. In peer tutoring an organic process takes place where the students learn from each other. By having more experienced students tutor newer participants, this strategy helps teachers act as true coordinators!


Categories: 2014, Education, Technology