GIF jumps from social networks to the classroom


GIFs ( Graphics Interchange Format , for its acronym in English) have resurfaced as a preferred format in communications and are present daily on social networks.

We live in a very visual time. Images, photographs and videos facilitate the understanding of information and dialogue not only verbal, but also visual and audiovisual.

Increasingly simple programs and applications now allow children, teenagers and adults to experiment with their own animated creations. In a GIF, 3 images are enough to generate the illusion of movement.

On the internet we can find numerous examples of GIF creations and virtual spaces dedicated exclusively to this medium, such as GIPHY , GIF ART or even thematic festivals such as GIF Arts Festival of Los Angeles or the International Festival du .GIF that invite us to consider this visual file as an expressive medium and an artistic genre of its own.

A cinematic thought

Cinema first, television later, and the development of thought and visual language made the experience of the moving image spread massively throughout the twentieth century. Works such as From Bison to Virtual Reality: the scene and the labyrinth , by Roman Gubern, Visual Thought , by Rudolf Arnheim or Introduction to the theory of the image , by Justo Villafañe, among many others, underpin this mediatic, technological and communicative.

Mobile digital devices are present in family everyday life, in the educational context and in the social space. We can consider that since childhood we are educating ourselves in a thought characterized by articulating the sequence image.

As a consequence of this transformation, current generations, immersed in the media era, learn to live, perceive and feel by image and thus develop a cinematic thinking of information while becoming familiar with sequential narration from those early ages.

Educational and artistic use

The GIFs, given their simplicity when creating them, are ideal for introducing students from the early educational stages in the understanding of diverse contents. Today, with mobile digital devices, teachers can move from static graphic representation to dynamic content representation.

Digital technologies, as Ángeles Saura recalled in 2011 in her work Educational innovation with ICT in Artistic, Plastic and Visual Education. Lines of research and case studies s , we allow work more playful, artistic and visual concepts and contents in the curriculum thus contributing to cognitive development, to expand the creativity and the acquisition of languages that are not limited to stay static on a surface.

Its application in the classroom

There are several possibilities with which to carry out lively experiences in which educators make the protagonists of their student learning actively involving them in the creation of GIFs.

It should be noted, as we proposed in the work Visual and cognitive experiences through GIF in Primary Education , that many have a purely playful nature, created from a humorous and media will, others artistic and others cognitive.

Therefore, the GIF could be classified into three types: humorous, artistic and cognitive.

The former are known as “memes”: they arouse the smile and entertain without further ado. But in the context of artistic education we will be interested in those GIFs created to learn and transmit knowledge and that involve valuable learning from the arts.

These are the ones that allow, for example, to understand the mixture of colors, work a visual rhetorical figure or see how a cube is constructed.

The GIF is a useful medium that offers an ideal format to work with it in the classroom, and as a didactic resource it allows, in addition, to link physical and analogical processes with other digital ones from more contemporary educational models in the line of b-learning , model of “Hybrid learning” theorized, among others, by Alice Bajardi.

We find then the idea of ​​teaching and learning in what already in 1974 McLuhan called a “classroom without walls . This is what we exhibited in Art, Education and Digital Thought: Educate, create and inhabit the fifth wall by connecting the concept “fifth wall” with the physical classroom, a digital matrix that opens us to worlds in which we can act without the physical conditioning of the real.

On the other hand, taking into account the use that social networks and the Internet give to GIFs, dominating without a doubt the memetic or humorous, it is necessary that educators and educators incorporate from this format experiences that allow students to see that there are a use and application of the GIF more interesting than the “easy joke”, expressing with that medium a more cognitive and artistic point of view.

Use of art apps to express yourself

Connected to the GIFs are the apps . This environment offers us attractive possibilities for teachers to incorporate experiences in the classroom that link with the technological contemporaneity in which we live.

In the world of apps we find some created to express, communicate and make art with them. This field is so wide that from our TESERACTO research group we have categorized its spectrum and designed a first instrument for its evaluation, whose first results have just appeared in the PixelBit magazine .

Among the apps that allow you to create and express yourself through GIF, we find GIF Maker, GIFSHOP, GIF Creator or FlipaClip. With the GIF-App connection, teachers can teach their students concepts such as the passage of one to two and three spatial dimensions, the generation of secondary colors from the primary or work on the understanding of movement and the plastic expression of color, among many other actions and expressions that will depend on the educational stage.

All this, carried out from a context committed to deep and meaningful learning, undoubtedly manages to transcend inert communication in which we sometimes live teachers and students in favor of a communication that is aesthetically, cognitively and artistically expressed.

Author Bios: Martín Caeiro Rodríguez is Professor and Director Didactic Department of Visual and Plastic Arts (Faculty of Education) at UNIR – International University of La Rioja