Using Animation to Inspire Digital Learning

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School is just around the corner for many students and teachers, and I’m eager to enter my media art class with some excitement. Yes, the past two pandemic years were challenging, stressful, and overwhelming. However, I’m really looking to motivate and inspire my students like never before.

During the last two years, restrictions on collaboration, equipment usage, and identifying classrooms forced me to create an entirely new curriculum focusing on digital animation. It was stressful, but the students made it worthwhile.

This year, I’m planning to dig deeper with students and focus on the stories that matter. My vision is to allow students to use media arts as a platform to tell their stories to the world.

Google Classroom Header Animation

I know the animation looks terrible. Google realizes there is a bug with this feature and is currently working on it.

Fun fact, you can create customized headers for your Google Classrooms! Of the file types supported, Google allows teachers to upload GIFS! I thought this was a perfect opportunity to create something in that space that reminded students of what this class is and what they should strive to do.

To help inspire students, I developed this animation to remind students to “create a story that matters.” The animation was developed in Adobe Illustrator and animated in Adobe After Effects. I envisioned the animation to be snappy and full of energy. I also wanted to challenge myself by limiting my color palette to five colors.

I did have man issues, however, with exporting the final image as a . GIF format. Photoshop did not like my After Effects file and kept providing lots of errors. The original animation was 10 seconds, and I had to speed the animations up and get it under nine seconds for Photoshop to cooperate with me fully.

Adobe, can we please get GIF support in Adobe After Effects?

This illustration resembles the handcrafted anchor desk in our TV Studio classroom. I was so happy with this image that I might actually turn this image into stickers for students.

The plan for the animation is to be embedded as the header image for our Google Classrooms. You can create your own Google Classroom Header! Create a .JPEG, .PNG, or .GIF image that’s sized 1600×400. Upload the image as your theme, and voila! Your Google Classroom is now customized for students. This will go a long way with your students.

Just think about how much time your student spends in the Google Classroom? If you create something that engages or excites them, they might be more willing to log in the first place. It’s also a great spot to foster student connections and build community. You could even ask students to design their own Google Classroom Header, where the teacher cycles through the student-generated artwork.

Here’s a cleaner version. GIF’s can sometimes look pixelated on this WordPress Theme.


I really enjoyed creating this animation project. I found the process to be straightforward. It helped that I included some elements of the High School into the animation, including the Fairhaven High School building, the Blue Devils mascot, and the anchor desks in my media studio classroom.

When developing this project, I wanted something snappy, something with energy. I’ve always been fascinated with kinetic typography and never had an opportunity or time to produce something of my own.

To this Day- Shane Koyczan

I love this animated short film. It’s one that I show to my classes each year, as the message is powerful thanks to kinetic typography and animated features.

Create- Justin Richards

This animated kinetic typography embodies the energy I was attempting to capture in my piece for my students. I also feel like the message is excellent and features effortless movements and transitions.

Alright- Matt and Kim

Not embarrassed to admit that I’ve been a huge Matt and Kim fan for years. I love the positive energy they bring to the music and admire that it’s just the two of them playing music. Their New England heritage also excites me. There was a trend in the early 2010s where musicians would produce kinetic typography of their music for YouTube channels. The style is one that immediately stuck with me, and even 10 years later, I still reflect on those video presentations for typographical inspiration.

Sharing With the World

I’ve recently finished author and animator Liz Blazer’s Animated Storytelling. In her final chapter, she discusses ways to get animated films seen. She advocates submitting and preparing work to film festivals, crafting a snazzy title image, constructing a succinct and exciting synopsis, and sharing the work with friends, peers, and the internet world.

She also shares her knowledge of Film Freeway, a film festival portal, and I’m completely in love with this website. I’ve been able to get my own films screened in festivals through that website. I’d highly recommend following Liz’s advice in this area.

Overall, Liz’s book was well done. It was chock full of information. However, it was also surface-level information. If you have any experience crafting any media, her advice is quite straightforward and doesn’t reveal anything earth-shattering.

Usually, I love to hate textbooks. From an educator’s standpoint, textbooks are the least engaging strategy to educate students, but I wasn’t that appalled with Liz Blazer’s book. I certainly did not enjoy crafting a summary of each chapter over the past seven weeks. I felt like I was in the fourth grade again!


Fairhaven High School, Fairhaven, Massachusetts

I really wanted to experiment with a color palette in my animation and try something a bit more abstract.

Most of this blog originates from my Master’s program at Quinnipiac University. I’ve really enjoyed taking the Motion Across Media with QU’s Professor Kent Golden for the past seven weeks. I thoroughly enjoyed producing something each week and enjoyed getting hands-on projects. This course was wonderful, and I found myself attempting to push my abilities, push my skills, and create something I normally wouldn’t. I have always loved animation, and this course gave me a much greater appreciation and developed a deeper passion I didn’t know I had.

My skills in After Effects have greatly improved. I used the program here and there and had just enough skills to be dangerous. Now, I feel so much more comfortable with the program and even excited to use the program in new ways. I think my digital illustrations would greatly benefit from added animation components, and I can’t wait to dig deeper with these new skills.

About the Author
About the Author

Drew Furtado is an Emmy Award winning filmmaker, and leader of a nationally recognized high school media arts communication department .

He develops guides and strategies for nonprofit and educational organizations to improve and grow their social media presence, website development, and communication practices that best engages audiences.

New Bedford, Massachusetts

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