Lesson presented using animated demonstration.


Animation is an incredibly versatile tool for creating educational videos. With the right skills, you can create almost anything.


Basic Modelling for Discreet Optimisation, Massive Open Online Course, University of Melbourne 2017

In the massive open online computer science course Basic Modelling for Discreet Optimization, Jimmy and Peter created short narrative animations using characters from Chinese mythology to weave a story that linked together problems and puzzles that challenged learners to develop increasingly sophisticated modelling and programming skills.

What the research says

Animations are especially effective at presenting procedural information (such as chemical reactions) more explicitly than static slides (Hwang et. al., 2012). Additionally, animations can depict process that wouldn’t otherwise be visible to humans, such as microscopic processes, or the interactions of stellar bodies. They also have the potential to be enjoyable and engaging to watch (our study). However, creating quality animations for teaching and learning can be difficult and expensive, as it can require specialist knowledge and tools. The research community is also conflicted on the efficacy of animations for teaching. Some studies have found that students show no significant improvement in learning when animations are used compared to when more conventional techniques such as slides or digital ink are used (Kesner and Linzey, 2005; Lodge TBC).

Production tips

  • On a per-minute basis, animation is potentially the most expensive style of video to produce, so plan well and make sure you are strategic.
  • When enlisting the help of an animator, preproduction and pre-visualisation is crucial, as making changes can be extremely time consuming, and hence expensive.
  • Animation can range from a simple slide build through to scene featuring hand drawn characters and landscapes. It’s always advisable to ask yourself  ‘what is this movement adding’?
  • Animation can be particularly useful when illustrating scale or movement, change over time, or to simply cue attention to one part of the screen over another.
  • There are numerous online packages for helping to quickly create animated infographics or presentations, but the results are often generic and may not necessarily enhance your content.
  • If you are thinking of creating a discipline-specific animation, check to see what has already been created bu others working in your field.

Further resources

Comparison of online animation packages.

Sketchfab allows artists to share and embed 3d modelled objects into the web browser, and supports immersive 3d viewing with the current generation of ‘virtual reality’ headsets.

Further reading

Hwang, I., Tam, M., Lam, S. L., & Lam, P. (2012). Review of Use of Animation as a Supplementary Learning Material of Physiology Content in Four Academic Years. Electronic Journal of E-Learning, 10(4), 368–377.

Kesner, M. H., & Linzey, A. V. (2005). Can Computer-Based Visual-Spatial Aids Lead to Increased Student Performance in Anatomy & Physiology? American Biology Teacher, 67(4), 206–207.

This page was last updated on 23 Oct 2018.

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