Get Serious About Animated GIFs

I built my first website in the late ‘90s as an undergraduate at the University of Georgia. It was titled “Matt’s World” with a spinning globe at the top of the page. Needless to say, it was awesome (the animated GIF, not my website).

Since then, animated GIFs have come a long way. They were the source of many chuckles during the 2012 presidential campaign. Cat lovers can find a plethora of feline-related animated GIFs around the Internet. And, the 2012 Olympics were a “giant coming-out party for the animated GIF.”

As that last link explains, this renaissance of the animated GIF is largely thanks to the following characteristics:

  1. It works on any device. Users don’t need the Flash player. They don’t need a fancy HTML5-ready browser. They can even use *GASP* Internet Explorer.
  2. It’s easily share-able via social media or email.
  3. It’s silent, which is helpful in an office environment. Your co-workers won’t realize that you’re watching cat GIFs during work hours.

These three features should also pique the interest of elearning creators. Whenever a simple animation might help explain a topic, wouldn’t you prefer one that is easy to create, universally supported, and share-able? Here are a few examples of instructional animated GIFs:

If I’ve convinced you that there is a place for animated GIFs in modern elearning designs, you might be wondering how to create an animated GIF. I built the GIF in this post using Picasion, though Google can give you many more options.