With the rapid evolution of technology and internet access, students now find themselves with multiple avenues for learning. No longer restricted by the need to confine themselves to libraries for research and theory work, education must adapt to students new needs. With students now capable of streaming videos from anywhere in the world, with an internet connection, it becomes feasible to meet these requirements in an effort to allow students alternative methods of study, especially in regards to students unwillingness to read written text, alongside those with learning difficulties [Stack-Cutler. 2016]. With services such as YouTube, students are able to access videos discussing a multitude of academic subjects in a casual and entertaining fashion, for example, PBS Idea channel, using current popular media to explore theory, history and politics [PBS Idea Channel. 2017], and Crash Course, which takes a seminar style approach to educating, mixing live action segments with animated explanation portions [CrashCourse. 2017]. While more respected corporations and schools may provide video discussions, such as BBC School animation [BBC. 2017], produced with animated sequences in order to appeal to children, or Yale University [YaleCourses. 2017], which features recorded lectures simply transposed on to an online format, rarely does an official and respected source, produce animated videos aimed at higher education students, in order to assist in their theoretical coursework.
While the projects aim is to produce animated sequences, the theoretical framework, is similar to that of comic book theory, and the use of images to convey text and meaning, essentially, semiotics in itself. To use Michelle Manno’s concept of the three E’s of comics, then the videos must be:
- “Engagement: Comics impart meaning through the reader’s active engagement with written language and juxtaposed sequential images. Readers must actively make meaning from the interplay of text and images, as well as by filling in the gaps between panels.
- Efficiency: The comic format conveys large amounts of information in a short time. This is especially effective for teaching content in the subject areas (math, science, social studies, etc.).
- Effectiveness: Processing text and images together leads to better recall and transfer of learning. Neurological experiments have shown that we process text and images in different areas of the brain: known as the Dual-Coding Theory of Cognition. These experiments also indicate that pairing an image with text leads to increased memory retention for both. With comics, students not only learn the material faster, they learn it better.” [Manno.2014]
With a concept such as semiotics, the idea of portraying these videos as animations, plays in to its favour, as the concept of semiotics is explained with semiotics. The versatility of animation, as well as the ability to bring in primary sources, allows for alternative subjects to be taught with the same medium. A video for semiotics, produced for an animation class, can be repurposed for interactive media or fashion easily. For matters that discuss history, it is useful to keep in mind a subject discussed by Corey Blake, describing our abilities to make a connection with illustrated sources, far easier than with simple written text. Blake uses the superhero genre as an example. “Just look at how easily we superhero fans memorize our favourite character’s power levels, sound effects, costumes and history. I could chronologically sort Cyclops’ outfits over the past 50 years faster than I could list the first 10 presidents of the United States. Why? Because there is a colourful narrative in comics form tied to Cyclops that captured my imagination when I was young. Meanwhile, there was a dry narrative tied to the U.S. presidents, probably more like a litany of facts occasionally brought to life by a good teacher. That doesn’t mean a history comic needs to give George Washington a ruby-quartz visor and Spandex, of course (although that would be pretty awesome!). U.S. history is actually pretty crazy and interesting on its own, but the engagement level will increase exponentially if we actually experience the story of Washington crossing the Delaware.” [Blake. 2013]
With both of these projects, a greater depth of research has been required. This has required me to take into account multiple avenues of research, and expanding upon subject matters within a field of interest. Combining media theories to attempt to cover gaps in research. Technically speaking, my skills have needed to be expounded upon with software such as photoshop and flash. While through my undergraduate classes, I have grown to understand the basics, however, when pitching, developing and creating concept art for the ideas put forward, I discovered new techniques and short cuts that provided me with a better understanding of how these projects should and can be undertaken. In particular, techniques in flash were taken into account and expounded upon, especially in regards to utilising sound into animations, a fundamental technique and skill required for the final project.