Less Animation More Learning

Ever since the advent of technologies like Flash and Silverlight there has been a tendency to use animations to explain concepts and processes. Animations are thought to be more engaging, visually appealing and easier to process. However, research done by cognitive psychologists Barbara Tversky and Mireille Betrancourt (Simple animations for organizing diagrams) points in a different direction.

Here is a summary of their research findings:

Cognitive power required to process animations is greater than what is required in reading text or viewing static diagrams. In simple words, it takes greater mind power to process animations than static diagrams. Static diagrams are not processed immediately as a whole and they require learners to process details and relationships between elements. Study on eye movements reveal that diagrams, like text, are processed sequentially. Often the viewer has to discover the best order to process the information. If diagrams can be broken down into smaller and simpler sections, and then sequentially displayed to learners, cognitive load can be reduced and learning enhanced.

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