Animations are used to successfully teach dynamic processes and enhance learning for wide cohorts of students across various disciplines, including chemistry, biological science, medicine, computer sciences and engineering. It is a relatively expensive teaching pedagogy but acts as a valuable education tool, ensuring that controlled information can be delivered at the pace of the learner. Anatomical knowledge is central to dental practice but certain anatomical topics are considered more difficult than others to understand. In particular, cranial nerves (CN) are a difficult topic to understand as their functions are varied and their course is quite complex. While various methodologies have been proposed to support learners, studies have been met with mixed results. The cognitive theory of multimedia learning offers a framework for the development of multimedia learning tools with emphasis on the dual stimulation of sensory channels (auditory and visual) leading to incremental cognitive processing of the message. Since knowledge of the cranial nerves in essential to dental practice and other medical specialties, we developed an animation of the cranial nerves following the framework proposed in the cognitive theory of multimedia learning. As animations are becoming increasingly available, it is important that their development is designed to meet educational and cognitive objectives as well as budgetary restrictions.
We propose a pipeline to create successful educational animations for third level students. We present a case study where the pipeline was used to create a whiteboard cranial nerve animation for dental students.
This pipeline presents six stages for the creation of an educational animation: identifying problem areas, student workshops, inter-disciplinary development team, pilot testing and feedback, improvements and roll out. Each stage is discussed with reference to the cranial nerve animation case study and highlights other considerations for each area.
It is proposed, based on our animation feedback and the results from pilot data collected from the dental students, that the whiteboard animation produced using the pipeline described herein is effective in teaching the selected topic. Considering the time and effort dedicated to the preparation of such teaching aids, it is important that the story board meets the course learning objectives and that the animation supports this while reducing potential distractions. Most importantly, our results demonstrate that the proposed pipeline allows the design and production of an animation in a streamlined manner, reducing the need for multiple iterations of the animation for corrections while anchoring it within the cognitive theory of multimedia learning.