Using GIFs as a Teaching Tool

Having trouble finding effective ways to present information to your students and patrons?  Animated GIFs may be your answer!  Animated GIFs are made of a series of GIF files that are saved as one single file.  The animations usually repeat for as long as the GIF is displayed.  Animated GIFs began as an alternative to video, when videos were too large to post online.  Karl Suhr of In the Library with the Lead Pipe says, “the animated GIF joined the blink tag and comic sans font as the gold, silver, and bronze medals for making a site look like it was ready to party like it’s 1999.”  You’ve probably seen animated GIFs as a tool to share jokes online, but they are also great tools for presenting information and how-tos.

Suhr highlights a study by Lori S. Mestre that shows other benefits:

  • 16 out of 21 participants chose GIFs over videos for tutorial purposes
  • “students with a variety of learning style preferences” were more successful in completing the tasks when they used GIF vs. video tutorials
  • GIFs take up less space – can be used “without special plugins or browser extensions
  • GIFs are present on the device once they are downloaded – no buffering or multiple downloads like is often necessary with videos

Want more GIFs?  Check out our post on the Digital Public Library of America’s GIF-IT-UP contest.

Image credit: 2014