Using Animation for Motivation and Learning

This week’s video was intended as an example of how to incorporate animation in a simplified video (Laureate Education, Inc., n.d.). Although I probably liked the animations more, I would not say they were all necessary or conducive to the instruction. The pacman image was a little unnecessary and distracting, but the majority of the images were relevant. I found the pace a little fast and the animations a little on the busy side.

Although I am not a big fan of the “talking head” in the previous weeks’ videos (Laureate Education, Inc., n.d.), the videos did, by and large, adhere to the animation principles considered to be of paramount importance by Mayer and the majority of researchers in the field of multimedia/cognitive load research. Specifically, the previous weeks’ videos did utilize signaling, audio narrative, and graphic animation when and where appropriate. An excellent example of appropriate animation would be the graphic animations used in the first week’s video when discussing the dual coding theory and elaborating on the multimedia theory of learning illustrating different sensory inputs and outputs.

Betrancourt provides several guidelines or principles to be used when designing instruction with animation, such as (1) “apprehension principle; (2) congruence principle; (3) interactivity principle; (4) attention-guiding principle; and, (5) flexibility principle” (Betrancourt, 2005, p. 291-292). Additionally, Mayer provides his guidelines or principles as (1) “multimedia principle; (2) spatial contiguity principle; (3) temporal contiguity principle; (4) coherence principle; (5) modality principle; (6) redundancy principle; and, (7) personalization principle” (Mayer & Moreno, 2002, p. 93-96).

It is important to note, despite the advent of these many guidelines, and as we have been discussing for a couple of weeks now, there is a great deal of conflicting research regarding multimedia, animation and cognitive load in this realm of study (Betrancourt, 2005, Ke, Lin, Ching, & Dwyer, 2006). Mayer’s research is very prolific and optimistic, but also suffers from vulnerabilities and inconsistencies due to a variety of confounding variables and issues related to experimental design such as content, complexity of content, narration versus no narration, static versus movement design, length of instruction, types of assessment, pretest, posttest, retention and transfer, pace control options, other multimedia options, as well as learner specific variables such as age, motivation, prior knowledge, general intellectual reasoning capacity, etc. (Ke et al., 2006; also see Munoz, 2011 for additional references).

Either currently or in the future, for what type of instructional context could you see yourself utilizing animation?

Although, as I have stated previously, I shudder to think about the many times I myself violated the guidelines for using animation in my own presentations, I am happy to report that I often chose more wisely when selecting online resources to aid my students in comprehending difficult topics. For instance, there are numerous online resources, tutorials and accompanying animations for Earth Science illustrating complex concepts such as plate tectonics, subduction, magnetic reversals, phases of matter, life cycle of a star, or even the rock cycle ( These types of resources encompass the guidelines discussed by Betrancourt, such as (1) “supporting the visualization and the mental representation process; (2) producing a cognitive conflict; and, (3) enabling the learners to explore a phenomenon” (Betrancourt, 2005, p. 288). For instance, the Triple Beam Balance tutorial ( is animated, interactive, flexible, learner-paced, and even used signaling.

In fact, my son just recently came to me with questions regarding the Sun, its status, size, and future demise. Within two minutes I was able to query Google Images and Search to find representative static diagrams illustrating the life cycle of a star. At his age, a simple diagram explanation is the first stop. After he digests that information and makes further inquiries, we can add moving animations to the topics. For instance, we can expand into more complex topics such as the chemical reactions that drive the life cycle of the stars.

Animations as discussion points in a family?

Animations sometimes effect our perceptions in ways unpredicted by the designer. In fact, research indicates that younger learners especially have a tendency to attend to animations superficially, resulting in the “illusion of understanding” (CITATION). In other instances, perhaps the designers know more than even we are aware. For instance, a very popular iPad/iTouch game called “kick the buddy” ( actually resulted in a complex and meaningful conversation with my son, as he quickly became enamored with this game. My husband and I, on the other hand, were a little disturbed by the obvious premise. The game provides the player with a cute Teddy bear as a little buddy. The purpose of the game is to beat up, bomb, shoot, or otherwise hurt the buddy. The buddy has options for sound effects, “ouch” “that hurts” “umph” as well as options for messages along the same lines, “I thought we were friends” , “if you don’t stop, you will be all alone”,” you’re killing me”. I actually deleted the game until I could reflect on the concept, do some research, and most importantly, discuss my concerns with my son. When I asked Gabriel why he thought the game was okay to play, he told me “it’s just a game, mom”. “It is what you are supposed to do”. This is true; the player is rewarded for hurting the bear. I talked about feelings, context, animation versus reality, and how he would react and/or feel in various scenarios depicted in the game. To test his veracity I also asked him more complicated questions requiring more thought such as “what would he do if he was told it was okay by a grownup to hurt someone? or an animal? How would he feel? Why? What if someone he loved would be hurt if he did not do as he was told? I am happy to report he was honest enough to admit he was not sure what he would do in every scenario, especially if a loved one was in jeopardy. He told me he would want to protect his family, but he knows it is wrong to hurt others. I can admit I am very proud of him.

But, his responses made me reconsider my perceptions. I “felt” badly because the animation being hurt was a cute bear, but my son was right… It is just a game and not real. I turned off the messaging option, and changed the head to be a Frankenstein head. Once I had done that, my perceptions changed dramatically. I could easily hurt a “monster.” In a way, I think my son has the better perceptual skills. He did not rely on the outward appearance or verbal/written messages. His focus was to accomplish the task. On the other hand, I have a better understanding why we can live next to real life monsters (serial killers, sex offenders, etc.) and be none the wiser. Grownups tend to depend entirely too much on visual perception. If they do not look like a bad guy, then ipso facto, they MUST be a good guy?

I have to wonder; perhaps I should have changed the graphic back? As disturbing as it feels to me, maybe it is teaching my son to be aware of wolves in sheep’s clothing? I am always telling him that “talking the talk” is NOT the same as “walking the walk”. A person’s actions are more important than appearance, or words. It is who they are on the inside, not what they look like that matters. It would seem he has learned these lessons far better than I have. I guess I am glad to have this opportunity to learn more about myself, my son and both of our characters … all because of a 99¢ app.

Lynn Munoz


Betrancourt, M. (2005). The animation and interactivity principles in multimedia learning. In R. Mayer (Ed.), The Cambridge handbook of multimedia learning (pp. 287-296). Retrieved from http://tecfa.unige.cxh/perso/mireille/papers/Betrancourt05.pdf

Ke, F., Lin, H., Ching, Y., & Dwyer, F. (2006, Spring). Effects of animation on multi-level learning outcomes for learners with different characteristics: A meta-analytic assessment and interpretation. Journal of Visual Literacy, 26(1), 15-40. Retrieved from http://e

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (n.d.). Introduction to graphics [Video]. Available from

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (n.d.). Technology-centered vs. Learner-centered instruction [Video]. Available from

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (n.d.). Multimedia Learning Theory [Video]. Retrieved from

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (n.d.). Effective use of text [Video]. Available from

Mayer, R. E., & Moreno, R. H. (2002, March). Animation as an aid to multimedia learning. Educational Psychology Review, 14(1), 87-99. Retrieved from

Munoz, L. (2011, May 25). The effective use of audio for learning [Week 4 Discussion, Group 2 comment]. Retrieved from


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