Learning through dynamic design and animation

Asem F. Aboelzahab

Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, United States

Discipline/academic areas addressed

While most of the online supplemental examples are developed for science and engineering applications, the activity itself can be adapted to fit any discipline as the techniques used are not specific to a certain academic discipline or area. Additionally, the project can be modified for different levels of ability/familiarity with the animation process described.

This activity can also be structured as a presentation that includes a series of more simplistic animations as opposed to creating a complex simulation of a process. The main outcome of either is introducing students to further methods of presenting their work visually in both academic and professional arenas.

Instructional purpose

Due to the interactive nature of this project and need for students to research more about the process they are illustrating, this project deviates from textbook learning and actually encourages students to do more self-paced “any time, any place, any path, any pace” learning. The use of technology and developing something that “moves” is a strong encouragement for students to have fun with this assignment and dedicate extra time to it. With the use of a readily available software package like PowerPoint, this activity has the potential to impact a large number of students. The golden aspect of this project is that it does not have to be stringently defined; instructors should encourage each student/group to come up with their own idea and set their own pace. Even when multiple students/groups identify the same idea or process to replicate, the two will almost certainly take different angles or employ various different skills/techniques in their development of the dynamic process digitally. For the purpose of this chapter, PowerPoint will be the target platform, but instructors are free to choose design platforms that they are comfortable with or that are available to their students.

Additionally, the project employs the use of many online sources and searches. Students are encouraged to watch videos, read scholarly publications, review textbooks and find relevant images that help explain their topic. The creativity of combining images, videos, and various other graphical formats to create a novel structure or animation that portrays a relevant process being taught in the class helps induce high interest levels from students.

Unplugging the Classroom. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-08-102035-7.00001-1

Copyright © 2017 Asem F. Aboelzahab. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

This project is very feasible both as an individual assignment as well as a team assignment. Also, it allows enough diverse features that can vary the complexity/sim- plicity of the design process. For example, students can develop a simple animation showing how covalent bonds are created in a specific chemical reaction to create a long carbon chain molecule. Conversely, students can develop a very elaborate digital animation showing the inner workings of a watch, depicting all the mechanical components moving synchronously.

As a result, this assignment encourages students to set the pace and complexity of their project based on their comfort level. Instructors can also set guidelines of minimum expectations/complexity they expect from students based on technical capabilities, educational level, etc. One strong incentive that can be included as part of the project is to introduce a competition among the class. This encourages students to explore their design further and increase levels of complexity to develop a very meaningful animation or simulation of the process or topic they are portraying.

These skills are applicable across all disciplines and focus can be placed on certain areas based on the most relevant skills or outcomes in the course.

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