Education Industry + Whiteboard Animation = ResultsClaude Harrington 10.03.2016
Over the past few years, IdeaRocket has had the pleasure of crafting explainer videos for a number of educational institutions. From high schools (like Langley and Clintondale) to universities (like Harvard and Johns Hopkins), we’ve worked with members of the education industry to create whiteboard animation videos. Why whiteboard animation? Because it gets results. Here’s why…
Pedagogically Speaking…Animation Works
According to education professor Lloyd P. Rieber (in his piece Animation, Incidental Learning, and Continuing Motivation that first appeared in the Journal of Educational Psychology) animated content possesses an intrinsically motivating appeal.
“Because animation can be thought of as the external visualization of an idea over time in a certain direction,” Rieber explains, “general theoretical support of animated visuals is believed to be provided by one of several theories of knowledge representation that support the use of visuals (pictures or other types) as an aid for memory or learning tasks.”
In addition to motivation, animation can also be an effective means of conveying information. “Animation is compelling,” Barbara Tversky and Julie Bauer Morrisony explain in their paper Animation: Can It Facilitate? “Animated graphics present information not available in the static versions, in particular the details of the microsteps between larger steps; that is, the minute spatial-temporal actions of components.”
The Power of Narrative
Yet even in the paper cited above, Tversky and Morrisony end their piece with this:
“Like all good things, animation must be used with care.”
What kind of care? For the that, let’s go to another paper by Barbara Tversky. A paper entitled Enriching Animations which gives us an answer: narrative.
“Most animations just show,” Tversky argues. “[But] showing isn’t explaining. If seeing the sequence of steps were sufficient for understanding, then schools would have an easier job.”
Narrative, however, takes animation to the next level. “Narratives explain,” she says. Which brings us, ultimately, to the power of narrative-driven explainer videos…
Four Elements of Great Narrative (Explainer Video Edition)
There is no easy-to-follow formula that can be used to create a great narrative. But there are a handful of elements that most great narratives have in common:
- Characters: Every tale has a hero. The hero in most animated explainer videos is the product or consumer, and she should be easy to identify.
- Conflict: Marketing or sales videos refer to conflict as the “pain point” the user faces. It’s an obstacle to their happiness or effectiveness, but a conflict doesn’t always have to be a “problem.” Sometimes the conflict can be an opportunity or teaching moment – especially in educational videos – and simply requires detailed explanation.
- Quest: The quest is a direct result of the conflict, and shapes the hero – and thus the narrative. In an animated explainer video, the quest is the search for a solution to the problem.
- Resolution: The video’s hero (and thus the user) has faced the conflict, endured the quest, and now arrives at the resolution. Ideally, this is a solution to the problem, but depending on your objective, the resolution can be a continuation of the conversation, or merely awareness of the problem.
Why Whiteboard Animation
Explainer videos in general lend themselves to the use of graphs, charts, facts and figures. But what separates whiteboard animation from other video formats is that it provides a way to seamlessly traverse between narrative storytelling and visual information.
That’s one of the reasons why whiteboard animation is so perfect for explaining processes. By breaking down larger concepts into a sequence of illustrative moments, we are able to refine our message as storytellers and easily digest that message as viewers.
And since we began this piece by talking about a couple of research projects, let’s end with one as well…
A couple years back, psychologist Richard Wiseman conducted an interesting experiment. Curious about the impact of whiteboard animation, he arranged a test of memory in which participants (there were about 1,000 total) were shown one of two video clips:
- A live-action explainer of a complex subject
- A whiteboard animation explainer of the same complex subject
The audio in both instances was exactly the same; so the only difference here, really, was the video format. Yet that single difference accounted for a major change. Among those who saw the whiteboard animation, there was a 15% rise in recall. The reason for this, Wiseman believes, is “because people are simply more engaged; in order to remember something, you must attend to it in the first place.”
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