The science of how whiteboard animations supercharge learning and memory

Posted by Naomi Linford on November 23, 2021
Naomi Linford

The importance of making learning easier and improving memory are obvious if you’re a student or a teacher. But a tool that would do both of those things can also be an advantage if you need to explain or promote your products and services.

The secret to learning and good memory

Meaningful learning happens when you’re able to connect the dots between things you already know and things you don’t. According to there are four key things your content must do to improve understanding and recall:

1. Grab and hold people’s attention. It takes about eight seconds of intense focus to commit a piece of information into your memory. Your content needs to be engaging enough to make people stick around for that long.

2. Involve as many senses as possible

Using a combination of sound, image and movement can help imprint the message into their brain.

3. Relate complex information to things people already know

Use metaphors and similes with images and words to increase retention and recall.

4. Chunk complex material down into basic ideas

Build up to the big picture from starting blocks that people can easily understand.

Whiteboard animations are so effective in aiding learning and information recall because they deliver on all of these key ingredients.

How animation delivers the keys to learning and improving memory

Educational psychologist Richard Lowe (2004) gives two primary reasons for using animations to assist learning. These are the way that they affect us emotionally, and the way that they help us process information.

Animations are so effective in helping us learn and remember information for two primary reasons. 1. How they affect us. 2. How they help us process information.

Animations affect us in four key ways:

  • They use motion and that attracts and captures our attention because evolution has taught us to pay attention to things that move for our survival, (think sabre toothed tigers!).
  • They're multi-sensory, and two of the strongest memory sensors are vision and sound.
  • The novelty factor of animations makes us more engaged.
  • Animations that use humor lift our mood and that make us more attentive.

Animations help us process information because:

  • The combination of words and images means that we're storing data in multiple places in our memory.
  • Animations can direct learners’ attention more easily using visual cues.
  • We can process visual information 60,000 times faster than text (Hubspot). Making them very effective when you want to share information or explain complex topics in a short timeframe.

So, if you want to increase the chances of a student or potential customer remembering your message then use animations!

The 15% memory uplift with whiteboard animations!

In addition to all the benefits we’ve covered so far, research by the award-winning professor of psychology,  Dr Richard Wiseman showed that whiteboard animations boost knowledge retention by 15% over talking head videos.

In 2012 Dr Wiseman took a video of himself talking and created a whiteboard animation version using exactly the same audio. He tested viewers' memory after they watched one or the other, to see which one helped them learn the best. He was astounded by the results. Overall, there was a 15% rise in recall across the memory questions for those who had watched the scribe video. He said:

“Anyone involved in education or research will know that is absolutely massive. Normally you have to work incredibly hard to get 5%, maybe 10% increase in any kind of behavioural measure like that. Simply by animation you're seeing a 15% increase.”

VideoScribe versus talking head video bar chart

On one of the questions in Dr Wiseman's research, 92% scribe viewers recalled the answer correctly – 22% more than those who had watched the ordinary video.

Dr Wiseman’s findings as to why whiteboard animations are so effective echo the reasons Richard Lowe identified. Firstly, because they grab our attention.

“We know that in order to remember something, you need to attend to it in the first place. If you haven't got people's attention, you're not going to get the information in. I think what the animations do is hold that attention. They hold it in an incredibly engaging way.”

And secondly, because they’re fun!

“You do anything better when you're in a good mood: creativity, productivity, learning. One thing whiteboard animation does is make me laugh, and it puts me in a good mood. Suddenly, it's not so much work. It not only makes them have a better time, more importantly it means the information is just going in.”

This combination of factors backed up by Dr Wiseman’s findings show that whiteboard animations outperform ordinary videos in memory tests, problem solving, number of shares and overall impact.

How to turbo-charge your animations

You can see that animations are inherently a powerful tool for teaching and marketing, but there are additional things that you can do with your animations to increase their impact.

  • Stories are the best communication tools we have, and if you can create a story or concept to frame the information you’re sharing then the impact of your animation will be massively amplified.
  • Use colors to influence your audience. Color plays a vitally important role in the world in which we live. Color can highlight key points, sway thinking, change actions, and cause reactions. It’s a powerful form of communication and you can take advantage of it with an animation.
  • Rather than create longer videos that will result in attention drop off, break the topic up into a series of shorter videos. This will maximise engagement and impact.
  • Use characters, to present information within your animations. These characters can be people, animals, or whatever you want to personify in the world that you’re creating in the animation. These are brilliant for brand recognition and helping student engagement and emotional connection.

Many marketers, freelancers, teachers and salespeople all over the world are taking advantage of the benefits that whiteboard animations can bring. Here's an educational example from the 2 Minute Classroom that we love!

What is VideoScribe?

VideoScribe is a DIY video animation software which lets you create your own videos quickly and easily. With VideoScribe, you can explain complex ideas and deliver powerful messages tapping into all the things that increase learning and memory.

It uses a combination of spoken word, animated hand-drawn images, music, and sound effects to create eye-catching and attention-grabbing videos on any subject.

It’s simple and intuitive to use, gives you the choice of thousands of library images, or you can use your own. There’s also a huge library of video tutorials, blogs, online guides and support resources for you to take advantage of and our technical support team is on hand to answer any questions as well.

Get started making your own video by signing up for a seven-day free trial of VideoScribe today, (no credit card required)!

Do you have any tips or advice to add? We’d love to hear from you, let us know in the comments.

Topics: Case Studies & Examples, Education


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