The Art of Learning

Tana LoyAssociate Medical Writer

Learning as a concept has been studied extensively. Researchers have developed many different theories of learning that describe how information is taken in by a learner, how it is processed, and how the information is retained. Advances in technology have resulted in information being presented in many nontraditional forms, including live-action video and animations.

Live-action video has long been a bastion of learning in the classroom. Computer animations, however, are an increasingly popular teaching tool. So which is more effective? Last year, researchers at Texas A & M University reported in Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education the results of a study that documented the differences in viewers’ responses to instruction using a computer animation versus live-action video. Although there were some benefits of live-action video, 3-dimensional (3-D) computer animations proved their effectiveness. Live-action video can often become dated, whereas  3-D animations can be updated and reused. Animations were also proven to effectively demonstrate nuances in human behavior, something that was once thought not possible.

There is one huge advantage that 3-D animations offer that might not seem as obvious. While the study did not claim that animations are more effective than live-action videos, it does claim they are just as effective. Looking further into this reveals a hidden advantage: live-action video can show only things visible to the human eye, 3-D animations can show what live-action cannot.

Doug Walp, a certified medical illustrator at AHE, says that animators can show what the camera can’t see and can even show scenes with full color and shadows. “Animations are engaging and inspiring. They make people wonder and are so immersive. Animations make the audience want to find out more,” says Walp.

Mike Boasso, Director of Medical Illustration at AHE, concurs. “I’ve been working in the medical illustration field, specifically the pharmaceutical field, for the past 11 years. In my opinion, one of the best educational tools you can use is an animation. Animated videos clarify, elucidate, and entertain.”

Using videos as a teaching tool is nothing new, but animations have much to offer. In the context of patient education, animations can demonstrate clearly and simply how to take medications, the mechanism of action of a medication or disease pathology, or exactly what will happen during a surgery. Animations offer much more than just pretty colors and nicely drawn objects. They reinforce information, and can be just what the doctor ordered!

Artcraft Health Education is a marketing communications agency specializing in health education solutions for healthcare professionals, patients, and caregivers. AHE Digital animations can breathe extra life into medical illustrations and encourage interaction between healthcare professionals (HCPs) and patients. Visit to learn more.