Animation in Education
Animation was borne out of different reasons. One reason, of course, is to provide state-of-the-art entertainment. Another is to aid scientists perform complex laboratory experiments that, hopefully, would make the world a better place for everyone. But one of the most significant - but sometimes, less heralded - purpose of animation is in the field of education.
In her paper, The Advantages and Disadvantages of the Animation Technology in Education and Training, Ms. Adel M. Agina says people are always looking for new and better ways to educate the young. She goes on to say that when children are having fun, they tend to learn better.
I may be a living proof of that assumption. In my last two years in High School, I have been involved in a number of inter-school competitions. Much of my stored knowledge, I would like to attribute to my parents, to the books that I have read, and to those games I have been playing all these years, like Knowledge Adventure's Jumpstart and Encarta games and interactives.
Doing additions, it seems, was more fun when it earned my 'frog' character a chance to catch a fly. I learned fractions by mixing potions in a Mad Scientist's laboratory. I learned a bit of geography by sailing on a pirate's ship. In High School, I visited 3D versions of archeological sites which had given me insights of the past and cultures of countries beyond my own.
Doing this project, though, has opened new vistas for me regarding the role of animation in education. Ms. Agina, in her paper, listed some of the benefits as follows:
· Skill and Ability improvement - the interactive environment of animation would help the students learn faster and without the complexities in traditional school lectures. (Not that I have anything against school lectures). A book, for instance, can devote several pages describing the architectural design of the Parthenon. It will take several minutes - or even hours - for me to assimilate all those information. But it took me a fraction of that time to absorb the beauty of the Parthenon as I took a Virtual Tour of the place.
· Interactivity - In traditional school lectures, there is a low chance for a shy student to be able to participate in class discussions. If this were the case, the student may learn less from what she could in animation.
· Engagement - Animation, with all the things that make it interesting, would definitely hook its learner because of the stuff that makes it challenging and worthy of a person's time. Since a learner may go back again and again to that program, his/her daily performance is increased.
· Flexibility and safety - Animation provides a hazard-free environment, especially in chemistry experiments that one can redo without injury. And it is flexible enough for a person to learn through discovery; it also shows non-possible matters in real-life learning. In 1987, Nurrenbern and Pickering discovered that students "who were successful in solving numerical chemistry problems did not necessarily understand the molecular concepts underlying these mathematical problems" (Sanger, http://faculty.cns.uni.edu/~sanger/ Review.htm). Realizing the problem, experts started looking at computer animation as a possible solution. They began to see computer animations of chemical processes at the molecular level as a powerful tool for helping instructors "model how they think using microscopic representation for students" (Sanger, http://faculty.cns.uni.edu/~sanger/ Review.htm).
· Motivation - Since this type of education is fun, learners are motivated to learn more and more each day, thus increasing the skills they acquire
· Eliminates Frustration - Learning through animation helps in the maturity of decision-making of the learner. The program adapts to the user's choices and reacts in different ways. In a traditional classroom, students look at teachers as the fount of knowledge. They follow wherever the teacher leads them. With computer animation, the students are provided with options - as to what route they would like to take - in forming and gaining knowledge.
· Practicality - It presents true-to-life situations where adults learn better because they are said to be "practical learners"
· Consistent - All learners from around the globe learn the same skills and principles since only the same program exists in all the countries.
· Immediate feedback - The animation system already provides the feedback for the learner, thus giving information where the learner should improve.
· Attracting and holding attention - It is said that colors attract attention. This standard is important in animation for a learner or student to be able to learn much, much better.
· Showing prototype designs - Animation is a dynamic tool for designing objects that do not yet exist in reality such as how the ideas of architects or engineers come to life.
· Creating models of data - Animation is easily manipulated by the user, therefore for them to become creative and artistic, three-dimensional models can be useful in broadening their imagination
· Showing processes or relationships not usually available - Animation is capable of demonstrating phenomena that are impossible to observe like earthquakes and erosion patterns.
· Isolating specific actions in a complex sequence - Deciphering the whole operation may be hard for a beginner; animation provides the user with parts of the operation where it can be easily understood.
Yes, education through animation has a lot of benefits. But in every thing, there are two sides of a story. Animation in education also has its disadvantages, namely:
· Some information of real-life learning will be lost in the animation program
· The socializing factor that is given by tradition school lectures will be unrealized in the animation program
· The animation program may be well in form from a technical aspect, but it is hard in fitting it in a curriculum
· The animation program may not fit to the level of a student in a higher or lower level.
· In solving problems, creativity may become a decisive factor for success in some simulation programs
· It cannot depict actuality.
Animation, despite its flaws, has proven itself truly useful in the field of education. We have seen its benefits in Science, Mathematics, Architecture and the Arts. With further studies, its benefits would become more significant and more far-reaching.