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:
- 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.
- It’s easily share-able via social media or email.
- 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:
- Cinemagraphs created this series of animated GIFs to explain how Dogfish Head Craft Brewery brews beer with strawberries.
- OneFineYarn.com explains various knitting techniques with animated GIFs.
- Animated GIFs are even helpful for short software tutorials. Wouldn’t it be handy to watch this animation on your iPhone as you perform the task on your laptop?
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.