Animated demonstrations for exploratory learners

Payne, Stephen J., Chesworth, Louise and Hill, Elaine Susan orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-4984-9446 (1992) Animated demonstrations for exploratory learners. Interacting with Computers, 4 (1). pp. 3-22. ISSN 0953-5438

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In an animated demonstration the device's display behaves as if the device were in use. We investigate the instructional potential of a ‘pure’ version of animated demonstrations, in which there is no commentary or supporting documentation for the animation. Such animations are heavily used in video games (such as PacMan), but are rarely seen in computer-based office systems, although modern designs allow them to be readily and meaningfully implemented.

We report two experiments that test the efficacy of animated demonstrations as an aid to exploratory learning of the MacDraw graphics editor. The animated demonstration is simulated by playing a short, uncommented, silent video recording of the screen-in-use. Experiment 1 shows that this technique offers large learning advantages over a no-instruction condition, and is, in our limited experiment, as effective as text-based instruction. Experiment 2 replicates the main effect of Experiment 1, again revealing a significant positive effect of a short animated demonstration on first-time exploratory learners.

A notable feature of uncommented animated demonstrations is that they do not offer a complete method specification for the performance of any tasks. In the face of this limitation, their success as instructions can perhaps best be understood in terms of psychological models of performance that do not demand complete cognitive encoding of plans or methods.

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