Animated GIFs are a great alternative to short videos or sets of screenshots. They can be used to display short moving images that can be looped to play repeatedly. The example GIF below takes the place of a series of screenshots demonstrating how to access a menu in Canvas.
Making your own GIFs
Using ezgif it is possible to crop the screen recording to show the specific part you are focusing on, and you can trim the clip to start and end where you need it to. Other settings include changing colours and setting how many times you want the animated GIF to loop.
Once you have created your animated GIF and have saved it, you can add it to a Canvas course in the same way as any other image.
The advantages of using GIFs
Compared with video, they minimise the storage space needed for the content, reducing data needed and loading times.
They can replace long sets of screenshots to show stages of a process. Often these screenshots take up a lot of space, and text can get lost amongst the large images.
They can be made quickly with no need for specialist skills or software.
Recently a change in Apple software made some other types of video and animation – those displayed in iframes – impossible to access using the Canvas app on iPhone. GIFs are a very accessible format and don’t require iframes to work, so using them where possible avoids this issue.
Some older formats of animations have become obsolete – animated GIFs have been around for over 25 years and show no signs of disappearing.
Uses for GIFs
To illustrate a couple of steps in using some software.
To show a series of improvements or changes to a document or file.
To show consequences of changing parameters in a simulation.
To illustrate the differences between a series of images, such as diagnostic scans.
We have had a few enquiries via FMS Enquiries about getting tasks done without specialist equipment we would normally have on hand in our offices.
We have recently added some information to the FMS Community on how to use mobile devices to produce learning materials. A kind of Do It Yourself guide for producing materials from home or on location.
Prompted by the need to show students FMS teaching labs, we have added some information around 360° images to the FMS Community, including example images and how these images are captured, processed and made ready for viewing. This work results in images which can be viewed on screen or using a VR headset.
These images have a variety of uses, including:
allowing students to view places they may otherwise never see in person
allowing students to see facilities such as labs before they arrive on campus
students can familiarise themselves with the layout of a room or building
taking activities in a safe controlled realistic environment, for example identifying hazards without putting themselves at risk
helping students learning at a distance to feel like they are part of the institution
As well as single images, it is possible to connect a series of images to create tours. Users can then click one place to the next in a series of linked 360 images – like in Google Map Street View. Video tours can also be created.
Recently we used these images to provide a virtual induction to FMS labs as part of a health and safety course. To see the full case study, visit the FMS Community.