Challenge: animation

When asking students to produce a different type of assessment we need to think about how we’re going to support them in doing this.

We’ll be using the seminars to guide and support students through the assessment process.

I came across this video thanks to the Good Practice Exchange from CELT (If you’re looking for learning and teaching ideas, it’s a fantastic place to start).

In the video Anna Sutton from the Business School describes how she set students a one hour challenge to create a one minute video to describe change management. So I plan to replicate this idea for a seminar activity. This will allow students to create an animation in a low stakes environment, reflect on concepts from lectures, and they’ll get experience of working together as a group. It will be a chance to get some feedback early on in the process, and an opportunity to learn from their experiences.

Anna advises emphasising that it is only short, reassuring them that they have the skills to complete this task, and asking them if they want to support from me or just want to get on with it. Can you think of any more suggestions for making this a smooth process?




The animating bug spreads …

No, this isn’t a public health warning. More MMU staff are getting engaged in animating. Julia Robinson, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, attended a conference last Saturday. The conference was: Social Justice: Towards a Model of Personal and Collective Empowerment and you can find out more here.

Having got the animating bug from seeing an animation I made at a party, Julia developed an animation for her presentation called:  ‘Working at the Interface of Community and Counselling Psychology’. Here is the animation:

Julia told me: ‘One of my aims was to encourage delegates to think community psychologically in their formulation of client problems and in the planning of their intervention. Presenting a fictitious client story (case study) through animation, proved to be a powerful way to communicate a sense of the whole person beyond the usual text-based representation.The task accompanying the animation was the following:

Listen to the client story.What information is missing? Using the resources you have been introduced to today, try and develop a formulation. What interventions would you plan?

I felt that the application of GoAnimate in this instance, stimulated much discussion around both material and discursive issues pertaining to psychological practice. I hope to develop my skills in using it as a training tool.’

Animation can be used in many ways, and as we keep sharing our ideas, they keep developing. We are about to purchase an educational licence for go-animate to support working with students to develop animations. Watch out for a blog post when we get the licence.


I had never really thought about animation and impact until I met Jenny Fisher in the Birley atrium!  Jenny showed me how she was using an animation app to support teaching and learning with her students.  In my role as Senior Research Fellow, the dissemination and impact of research findings are, of course, really important.  With the next REF already in mind,  I immediately thought that using animation could be a good way of presenting research findings in a different way and of reaching different audiences.

In our research we’ve been using ‘impact summary cards’ to disseminate research findings and to try to encourage people to engage with our research outputs including journal articles, presentations and blogs.  The cards are bullet pointed summaries of the outputs.  You can see an example  here: Card 3 .  The impact summary cards worked as the basis of the animations and became the ‘story boards’ for the animation themselves.  You can see an example here based on the summary card here:

Because I already had the summary cards/story boards, I was able to make 14 animations in a day! (You can see that making them can be a little bit addictive, but making 14 in a day will cure you!).

So far, I’ve used the animations to support lectures, tweeted them and posted links to them from our project blogs.

I’m still learning to use animation and I know that the animations could be improved by slowing them down and adding a voice over and I will continue to develop them over time and, I hope, learn new skills, not least from Jenny and Hayley.

But I’d encourage anybody to have a go – #animateforimpact!


Our first animations

Jenny hard at work (Marian and I out of shot)
Jenny hard at work

We didn’t want to ask our students to do anything that we wouldn’t do, so we knew that we would include animations as part of our teaching. We just hadn’t planned how and when this would happen yet. The ideal opportunity came along when we were discussing the first week of teaching and introducing ground rules on how we (we being ourselves and the students) behave as a group. So we decided that this would be an ideal opportunity to create an animation as a prompt.

We banned ourselves from playing around until we’d had a discussion about what we wanted, and produced a a storyboard (best practice learnt from our reading, but also from our own previous attempts of trying to jump in at the deep end and ‘just make something’).

We decided we wanted an animation that would prompt a group discussion about what our class rules would be i.e. thinking about how should you behave if you’re late to class. It was important to us that it was about prompting ideas, not setting the rules to start with as we want the class to be a collaborative environment. which lead us to thinking about how we would approach the fact that we very much want this class to be a collaborative exchange of ideas, not a one way conversations.

Storyboard: how should we be in a lecture?
Storyboard: how should we be in a lecture?


Storyboard: working as partners
Storyboard: working as partners

And then set out to have a go at making them. Much giggling and faffing around ensued (if the students enjoy the process half as much as I enjoyed this morning together then I’ll feel that we’ve achieved something), and we came up with these beauties.

One of promise for this project was that all outputs would be made available as OERs, so please feel free to use these resources in your own classroom (if you do, we’d love for you to let us know how it goes).

All feedback gratefully received. Do you think this is the right way of approaching these conversations? What sort of animations would you like creating for your own classroom?



Sign up for the Animation for Impact workshop! Still some places left! #flexcpd

One of our first project outputs already! We’re running an animation workshop, advertised within our Faculty, but open to everyone around MMU. We’re hoping that by running this workshop we’ll get people kickstarted thinking about animation, but also get some feedback on how first time animators take to the tools and approach storyboarding.

Learning & Teaching News

Jenny Fisher, Katherine Runswick-Cole and Hayley Atkinson are running an Animating for Impact Workshop on Monday the 24th of November, 12-1pm in Birley 3.68
Spaces are limited, so if you wish to participate, please email Jenny Fisher at j.fisher @ (without the spaces). You can also find Jenny on Twitter @jennycfisher

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Why animation?

So why use animation as a form of assessment? Jenny and I had discussed this back in May. Jenny had mentioned that it was something that she was interested in, inspired by some animations she’d seen.

She asked if I thought it was worthwhile pursuing. She wanted students to have an assessment that was more authentic (the animations will be about real life community projects or groups) and that took more of a storytelling approach rather than the ‘listing facts about an organisation’ approach. I had previously worked on a project where students volunteered to produce an eBook version of their assessment as well as the traditional essay format. Feedback from this had shown that using an alternative form of assessment, students had:

  • considered an audience for their work other than the lecturer that was marking it;
  • planned more carefully;
  • and enjoyed producing the assessment more.

All positive indicators. So we decided to do it.

We were then lucky enough to be the recipient of a  SOTL (scholarship of teaching and learning) research grant from CELT (centre for excellence in learning and teaching) here at MMU (Manchester Metropolitan University). Essentially this has allowed us to dedicate more time (and some money) to a project that we were already planning on pursuing.

As we’ve started to do some reading around, there seem to be plenty more reasons why animation works as an assessment tool. It has been show to:

  • foster collaboration,
  • encourage participation by hard to reach students,
  • increase the sense of pride that students take in their work.

So to go back to the original question: why use animation as a form of assessment? This is what we hope to answer more fully as we work on this project.

We hope that through this blog we will share our experiences, frustrations, and reflect on our journey. We hope that you will join us, support us and question us along the way.