All posts by hayleyofatkinson

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?




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?



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.