Today in Digital Technologies we were looking at animation. This is an area I had no prior experience of and so I found it very interesting. Exploring the Moving Image Education website (MIE) I found out that there are 5 main categories of animation:
- Cutout – generally considered the quickest and easiest
- Stop-motion – example is plasticine models
- Pixillation – humans become the puppets
- Drawn – example is the classical Disney animation
- Computer – also known as CGI and found in games and movies.
(Moving Image Education website)
I could see that the first three categories could easily be taken in to the classroom to explore a variety of topics in a way most pupils would never have experienced before. This is in agreement with Bertrancourt who suggests there are 3 ways animation can be used to enhance learning:
- To enhance learners’ visual representations.
- To illustrate processes.
- To provide an interactive element.
(Bertrancourt 2005 as cited in Jarvis 2015, p92)
I had never previously considered that something I would have once thought of as ‘playing’ could provide stimulus across the curriculum. For example, the animation could be representing a piece of literacy work in the form of a story created by the students. Or it could be an informational piece recreating a historic event, or the link to learning could be through the materials used to create the animation such as leaves, twigs, stones for a nature topic. Regardless of the topic the use of this medium would encourage and enhance social skill, decision making, problem solving, collaboration which are all essential life skills.
I was eager to learn more and so in the role of learner we were introduced to PuppetPals and instructed to create a story using the app. This gave me an initial taste of basic animation and the processes I would have to consider to make it look and flow properly. Having mastered this, we moved on to using iStopMotion on the iPad. Working together with a classmate we created an animation loosely based on the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. We called it “Golden Bear and the 3 Aliens”. Using paper and pens we created two backgrounds and also some speech bubbles for our characters. The characters were plastic toys from a selection provided for use in the class for the lesson and as the title suggests….a small yellow(golden if you use artistic licence!) and three posable alien figures. It was easy to let our imagines run and come up with the short story as we went. It involved discussion and agreement, sharing of tasks, problem solving to get the animation made. The actual filming of the animation was admittedly quite time consuming because each frame involves a minimal movement of the character/s. This is something that Jarvis warns about “…using sound and video should enhance the quality of information processing and hence learning. However, it can be very time consuming.” (Jarvis, 2015, p93). However, the same would apply to the use of an animation app as with any game based learning, the teacher has to make clear the way in which the game is to be used (Beauchamp 2012) and set the parameters which in the case of animation could be stipulation of the amount of frames per second and the animation length.
It is important that we acknowledge the benefits of technology to enhance learning. Beauchamp (2102) refers to it as e-inclusion. Using digital technology to benefit children with learning support needs to minimize the problems they experience and to maximise their inclusion in the class learning. Bringing animation in to the classroom I see as an excellent tool to facilitate this. As the Film Education website highlights, “Animation is a co-operative exercise and will utilise the varying skills of the children in the group getting the best out of them. You will find that where some children can draw well, others will be good at operating equipment or playing instruments; or performing voices or acting as artistic directors”. I believe this exemplifies that there is a role of everyone in a task like this.
Some of the Curriculum for Excellence Experiences and Outcomes that could be linked to this are:
I can explore and experiment with digital technologies and can use what I learn to support and enhance my learning in different contexts. TCH 1-01a
I have the opportunity to choose and explore a range of media and technologies to create images and objects, discovering their effects and suitability for specific tasks. EXA 1-02a
I enjoy exploring events and characters in stories and other texts and I use what I learn to invent my own, sharing these with others in imaginative ways. LIT 0-09b / LIT 0-31a
As I move through my time at university and into teaching I hope to be able to use this technology in learning. Today has been a great learning experience for me.
Beauchamp, G. (2012) ICT in the Primary School From Pedagogy to Practice Pearson: Harlow, England
Jarvis, M. (2015) Brilliant Ideas for Using ICT in the Classroom: A Very practical Guide for Teachers and Lecturers. Routledge.
Moving Image Education website: [Online] Available at: https://movingimageeducation.org/create-films/animation [Accessed: 20.2.18]
Film Education website: [Online] Available at: http://www.filmeducation.org/resources/primary/teaching_with_film/primary_animation/introduction/ [Accessed 20.2.18]
Scottish Executive (2004) Curriculum for Excellence. Edinburgh: Scottish Executive