Information in Motion

Originally posted on the Center for Teaching Excellence Blog

In the real world, nothing teleports from one place to another. And that’s why it’s so important to animate every change on screen in a way that makes sense.

Matias Duarte, Vice President of Design, Android at Google

Nowadays, animation is being integrated into the devices we are using more and more often. For example, iOS 7 from Apple uses motion to communicate the navigation of their devices. So, when a user selects an App folder, she or he “zooms” into that folder. When a user launches an App, she or he “zooms” into that App. And now, with the announcement of Android L, Google is also emphasizing the role motion plays in communicating information to the user.

So how is this relevant to education?

First and foremost, educators should consider how to present information to students in terms of how the student can best comprehend the content. In some cases, this may include animation in PowerPoint slides (or any other instructional medium). Instead of transitioning between slides by having elements disappear and reappear, educators should pair changes in information with on-screen transitions that indicate how the information is changing. This can be powerful when trying to express specific points. When the goal of the instructor is to clearly communicate to her or his students, purposeful motion can be used to enhance this exchange.

Consider a few examples of how motion can be used in software to present information:

To demonstrate gradients like pressure differentials using motion; to demonstrate the migration of a population or the spread of a technology on a map; to demonstrate the history of the universe with a timeline that uses motion to illustrate how long humans have spent in existence. All of these are ways in which motion can be used to enhance the learning experience of students.

But how does one start to incorporate motion into her or his course materials?

My suggestion is to start by adding motion to components of your presentation that would benefit the most from motion. Whether that is smoothing transitions of information or demonstrating concepts that involve motion, these are ways in which movement can be integrated into presentations.

The following tools are just a few that can be used to create such animation:

• Magic Move Transitions in Keynote

• Animations in PowerPoint

• Builds & Actions in Keynote

• Transitions in Prezi

• Annotations in Explain Everything

• Annotations in Doceri

Before you begin animating content for a presentation, I would like to bring your attention to something that can easily be overdone in a motion-enhanced presentation.   It is easy to incorporate too much animation into a presentation. I have seen many presentations that suffer from too much animation that detracts from the informational content. On the other hand, I have seen some phenomenal presentations that appropriately utilize motion to illustrate how content transitions and develops.

The one thing every educator should take away from this post is that information is inherent in motion, and consequently, instructors should consider how it can be utilized pedagogically in the classroom.

If you have any questions about the content covered here please leave a comment below or tweet me @CraZyIriShman7.

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