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Radio #EDUtalk 03-10-2018 Loose Learners Ep 13: Gifs Again

Loose Learners Episode 13 Gifs Again

Mariana Funes and John talk about Gifs Again

ᴹᵃʳⁱᵃⁿᵃ ᶠᵘⁿᵉˢ (@mdvfunes) on  Twitter
john johnston (@johnjohnston) | Twitter

“The Graphics Interchange Format, better known by its acronym GIF (/dʒɪf/ JIF or /ɡɪf/ GHIF), is a bitmap image format that was developed by a team at the bulletin board service (BBS) provider CompuServe led by American computer scientist Steve Wilhite on June 15, 1987. It has since come into widespread usage on the World Wide Web due to its wide support and portability.”



We were back with Loose Learners on November 7 with an educationally fun topic: animated gifs. This episode asks: are gifs good or bad for education? And we answer with a definitive yes. Disclosure: both of us have been making gifs for fun and education for years, some might even say we are digital artists…though we refer to what we do as creating artifacts. You can find John’s Tumblr and Mariana’s Tumblr easily, if you want to see what we do.

We talk about the joy of having our creations accepted by such important institutions, but also wonder if projects like this trivialise.

We spent quite a bit of time with different and interesting educational uses that John had stored up in preparation for the episode. One interesting use was aReddit set up to show how things work in gif form. From their blurb,

“Gifs are great at getting quick to digest info, and /r/educationalgifs strives to give you educational info in this quick to digest format. From chemical processes, to how plants work, to how machines work, /r/educationalgifs will explain many processes in the quick to see format of gifs”

Another site offers upeducational gifs for kids in their blurb we found a great summary of our position on animated gifs: “Who says GIFs can’t be educational? We’ve compiled 20 fun and fascinating educational GIFs, all of which are appropriate for kids. Get ready to learn something new!”

Other applications include a curated collection on Tumblr of educational gifs and another which claims thatanimated gifs can save democracy! And yes, we talk far too long about the making of the beautiful gif at the start of this post.

One of the most interesting part of the episode is John exploring how he uses the creation of animated gifs as a basic setup to teach kids about programming. He explores how the basic workflow of making a gif can be used to teach kids about programming.

We end with a shout out to Ryan Seslow who is asking for submissions for his Net-Art course ,

Ryan also has an amazing set of resources for those of you who want to have a go at making some lovely gifs for education, for fun, or both.

And Mariana could not resist a tacky retro gif to let you all know when we are back next and she asks: if you know a giffing tool that does not require us to pay money to Adobe but can let us do what Photoshop and Fireworks can do, tell us in the comments? She is currently trialing the new version of Gimp 2.10 and the new features in it seem quite tasty as well as being free.

And, finally, for those of you who need convincing that the animated gif is an scholarly endeavour, we have found a journal article that speaks to its seriousness as a medium of expression: Never gonna Gif you up!

From the abstract,

“GIFs have become a key communication tool in contemporary digital cultures thanks to a combination of their features, constraints, and affordances. GIFs are polysemic, largely because they are isolated snippets of larger texts. This, combined with their endless, looping repetition, allows them to relay multiple levels of meaning in a single GIF. This symbolic complexity makes them an ideal tool for enhancing two core aspects of digital communication: the performance of affect and the demonstration of cultural knowledge. The combined impact of these capabilities imbues the GIF with resistant potential, but it has also made it ripe for commodification. In this article, we outline and articulate the GIF’s features and affordances, investigate their implications, and discuss their broader significance for digital culture and communication.”

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