How Animation and Art Creates an Immersive Learning Experience

Posted by Dan Heit and David Schuttenhelm on Jul 4, 2013 12:05:00 PM

Happy Fourth of July! Here's a great blog post from Dan Heit and David Schuttenhelm of the Wowzers art team. We pried them away from the drawing board so they could tell you why solid animation and game-based learning is what sets Wowzers apart from your typical digital math content. 

It is common to see artwork of some kind in educational or informative media, whether it be a textbook or a USA today article. The illustrations are usually very simple and meant to make the content easier to understand. But if a picture is worth a thousand words, how much more valuable is animation, interactivity, and an immersive context?

At Wowzers, our art team seeks to answer that question everyday by pushing the learning boundaries of our fun, immersive game-based learning math world.

Animation is a Driving Force of Game-based Learning

Fortunately, as a digital math platform, Wowzers has the advantage of incorporating animation. There are some concepts that are just hard to visualize with a single 2-D image, or even a series of images. Our art team uses animation to break through this divide and add visual representation of these math concepts.

Here's a very simple example to show you what we mean: the rectangular prism below is one of our animations designed to help students find the surface area. Merely seeing the “unfolded” state, it would be hard to visualize the surface area. But, watch what happens as the box unfolds. As you can see, the animation provides visual context to the concept of surface area. 

rectprism unfold

Going Beyond Digital Textbooks and Flashcards

Obviously, digital animation can offer state-of-the-art learning tools and resources. At Wowzers, we believe art can push the learning experience even further than just visual aids.

digital pie chartInstead of making simple digital flashcards or virtual whiteboards, our art team strives to create animations that are more like the worldbuilding seen when creating a video game or animated television show. With that in mind, we design the lessons so that the digital art provides the context of the learning.

On top of animation, the Wowzers artists also have the advantage of students digitally interacting with our images. Asking a student to draw a pie chart with paper and pencil can be a tall task. But with a digital interface, drawing and analyzing a pie chart becomes much simpler (and cleaner).

The Learning Advantages of an Immersive Game-based Experience

So, why do we go to the trouble of creating such an immersive game-based experience? By offering a setting, story, and characters as the context for each lesson, our belief is that students will take a deeper learning dive beyond basic math skills. 

Wowzers settingWowzers lessons are geared to show students why the skill is valuable and how it might be used in the real world, often by a professional in the course of their job (which the student also learns about). Though in a fictional context, the characters still provide motivation because the problem solving the student engages in directly impacts their avatar and the story. By being invested in the context, the student, in turn, becomes invested in the learning.

However, creating a game-based context that helps students become invested in learning is no easy task. Our goal at Wowzers is to use our amazing art team to create a product with a level of professionalism on par with the other digital media students regularly consume (video games, apps, television, etc.). We want there to be a sense of continuity between the video games and cartoons kids seek out on their own, and what we’re offering. We don’t believe education should be a downgraded experience and love to see kids seeking to learn with Wowzers on their own too.

Click here to read more about students and teachers' experience with Wowzers.

If you'd like to see Dan, David, and the Development Team's hard work in action, check out our demo by clicking the button below!

Topics: Blended Learning, Wowzers Tales

Wowzers is a comprehensive online math program covering all Common Core State Standards for grades K-8. The research-based program adapts to each learner and allows for an individualized path through the curriculum. Content is presented in multiple ways, and appeals to tactile, auditory, and visual learners. Assessments mirror those found on high-stakes achievement tests and provide teachers and administrators with the information that they need to personalize learning for each student.

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