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Animation helps educators fill Covid-19 learning gaps

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Apr 25, 2021

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The digital revolution has salvaged a range of industries which were devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

This includes the education sector, where school pupils and tertiary education students were forced to migrate to online learning during some stage of the global health crisis.

But local video and animation studio 3rdfloor has been rendering their services to help assist some South African teachers, many of whom have had to swap the classroom for a digital screen.

Co-founder of 3rdfloor in Cape Town Steve McDonald explained that their new project also aims to educate youngsters about the digital sphere.

“We are currently creating a series of animated videos for MySociaLife, the South African digital life skills programme which teaches online safety, media literacy and social media awareness in schools,” he explained.

McDonald explained that they decided to use animation as a central tool for this initiative because of its ability to simplify complex information through the use of visuals.

“The brain can process visual information far easier than text, resulting in increased information retention as well as quicker problem solving.

“Animated videos are also extremely versatile: we often make multiple versions in different languages, edit videos into bite-size ‘cut downs’ for various social platforms, pull out gifs and images and even offer a full digital asset library which our clients can use across their entire brand,” he adds.

He explained that their series forms part of an eight-part digital learning programme that delivers online lessons to Grade 4 to 11 pupils.

“We use age-appropriate, relatable, interactive, and on-the-pulse ‘digital life lessons’.”

McDonald believes that it is important for South African youngsters to learn these online skills so that they can compete with their international peers.

"To stand out in the digital noise that is the media environment of today, you really have to be able to tell a story on multiple levels. It’s visual, informative and emotional, and if you can strike the right balance, your video will connect with people and be remembered."

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McDonald said that 3rdfloor wanted to assist the local education system during the pandemic because he believes that the impact the novel coronavirus will have on education could be felt for as long as a decade from now.

He quoted education expert, Professor Nicky Roberts who recently said that by the end of 2020, children could have lost a full six months of learning.

This is not unique to South Africa as according to a recent Unesco Monitoring Report, 192 countries had implemented nationwide closures, affecting about 99% of the world’s student population, and a total of 1.75 billion learners.

“Simultaneously, the pandemic forced disruption in ways of learning, innovators accelerated blended and distance learning and open educational applications to reduce disruption to education.

“The industry is in total flux. Online education platforms are desperate to stand out,” McDonald said.

“They want to catch the attention of learners and educators and hold it.”

For those educators who are keen on introducing animation into their classrooms, 3rdfloor suggested that they focus on the story, keep their stories short and that they be brave and bold.

“A little humour and quirkiness go a long way so does the choice of music, voice artist and the use of sound effects. Don’t be afraid to go with cool ideas that are different - go with them because they’re different.”

The Saturday Star

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