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An educational animation is a cartoon developed to be used in classrooms, on educational television programs, and in other settings where people want to provide information to people of all ages in a clear, accessible, and informative way. A number of companies specialize in the production of educational animations, including shorts for use as clips and inserts in larger produced pieces. Such cartoons are often available online through company websites or video sharing services.
In an educational animation, information is broken into chunks that are easy to present and understand. The animation may involve a story with characters interacting with one another to present the information. It can also simply be an animation of the information, like an explanation of how volcanoes work. The animation can include prompts like discussion questions, as well as tools like mnemonic devices designed to help people remember key pieces of data presented in the animation. Songs and rhymes may be used in cartoons designed for younger viewers.
Instructors can use an educational animation in the classroom during a teaching unit to provide students with a more dynamic learning experience. Some students learn better through visual and audio information like that in animations, and will recall the course material better when presented with this type of video. Animations can also make the classroom environment more interesting, capturing attention and keeping students engaged. Animations can also be used for general public education, as for example in a public service announcement about recycling accompanied with an informative animation.
Educational animations on the computer may allow people to interact directly with the animation, manipulating variables to change the circumstances. By being able to change the settings, people can see how different factors change a situation and they can apply this knowledge to their understanding of the real world. People studying weather systems, for instance, could change wind speed and direction in the educational animation in order to see how factors in the climate interact with one another.
Producers of an educational animation usually provide rating information about the age range the cartoon is designed for. Animations intended for younger audiences will use simpler language in their explanations and will establish building blocks for learning, rather than assuming that viewers understand basic information. Animations for older audiences will be more complex and may be presented in a different tone to appeal to teens or adult viewers.