Analyzing the Motion Graphics Animation

in the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course)



Lin Xiao, HyunSeok Lee


Dept. of Visual Contents

Graduate School of Dongseo University

Busan, South Korea,






With the rapid development of network technology and information technology, the appearance of MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) makes courses popular and network-based. However, seen from the videos of mainstream MOOC at present, there are many deficiencies in the design of MOOC, such as blind stacks of texts and graphics and boring pictures, which affect users’ study experience to some extent. At the present stage, researches on MOOC mainly focus on the design, teaching mode of MOOC, and the analysis of learners’ learning behaviors, while there are few analyses on the application of Motion Graphics (MG) animation in MOOC. In this thesis, by analyzing the advantages of MG animation, features of MG motion in MOOC teaching videos are extracted, with a view to providing reference to designers of MOOC in the future.


Keywords- Massive Open Online Course; Motion Graphics; analysis


1. Introduction


As the fragmented new media, MOOC is widely used in the internet teaching, but such a teaching resource has the higher requirements for the production form and specialty. How to improve the presentation effect of MOOC becomes one of important factors for MOOC development. Whether MOOC can attract users to watch continuously and actively and this requires for content design and technical support. That is to say, good MOOC not only needs the excellent teaching content design, but also requires for the proper technical support. Otherwise, it is hard to stand out the short and refined feature of MOOC. MG animation-oriented MOOC is a new form to satisfy the presentation of MOOC and it is greatly used in the internet. In this thesis, learners are selected as the research object. Then MG animation in MOOC is analyzed, so as to improve production efficiency of MOOC videos. In this context, learners will take the initiative to study and their interest in learning will be motivated, which makes it more accurate and smooth for learners to grasp the key points of knowledge [1].


2. Theoretical Research


2.1. Massive Open Online Course

Massive Open Online Course (MOOC for short) refers to massive open courses online. Some researchers consider that MOOC is an emerging online course format developed by network and mobile intelligence technology based on curriculum and teaching theory. Since MOOC was proposed in 2008, it has had the rapid development until now. Due to different demands of various disciplines for video forms and innovation of today’s digital media technology, the production methods of MOOC videos are constantly changing. Under the exploration of different scholars, they have created all kinds of video production modes. The mainstream MOOC video production methods get involved in studio, studio recording, course video, Khan Academy, and screen record. How to select the best video presentation in the process of making MOOC becomes the primary consideration in production of MOOC videos.


2.2. Motion Graphics

Motion Graphics, MG for short, is generally interpreted as motion graphics or dynamic graphics. MG is a language that combines animated movies and graphic design and a visual representation form based on timeline motion design [2]. The originally static flat image is set up in a dynamic way, so as to reveal dynamics. The theoretical foundation of these visual languages and artistic forms is the visual language of television animation. The reason why MG animations are so popular is that it is determined by its characteristics. Generally speaking, graphs in MG animations apply the flat design. The flat design with the short time, fast rhythm and more information enables information expression to be concise and direct. Moreover, it is suitable for the online spread of the internet. Besides, 3-5min MG animations are coordinated with relaxed and humorous language to make the flat graphic color conform to the information receiving habit of the masses. In 2014, Dr. Philip Guo and Post-doctoral Juho Kim in Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as well as vice president of edX engineering Rob Rubi analyzed 862 video watching records and sampling 80 videos watching behaviors on edX together. The findings showed that videos within 6 min were most attractive, providing the practical suggestion on producing MG animation-oriented MOOC. Short contents are mainly reflected in explaining a knowledge point. This exactly corresponds to the fragmentation learning situation of knowledge in the information era and promotes ubiquitous learning and mobile learning.


3. Relevant case studies


In this case, we sampled the top 20 videos of the hottest courses in each discipline from three major MOOC platforms, Coursera, edX and Udacity, to carry out a large-scale analysis of recording ways and learning effectiveness. Based on the analysis, we find that different ways of recording will have different influences on learners’ learning outcome, and among all the recording ways, animated lecture videos are the most popular videos for learners.


Table 1. Survey on Learners’ Preference for Different Types of MOOC



Outdoor Shooting

Studio Shooting

Classroom Recording

PPT Recording

Animation Type

Hand Painting Type

Other Forms


























The dynamic graphic characteristic formation of MG animations is the necessary choice under the visual cognitive rules. Visual attention is the important constituent part of visual perception. The second level of visual attention means that whether people pay continuous attention after noticing something. As a result, if an animation wants to be attracted by audiences, it must reinforce audiences’ visual stimulation and use the sustainable, changeable and stimulative visual effect to maintain audiences’ attention. In the new media era, various graphs and image information are flooding. Static frames and traditional images have no feeling of freshness. Information spreading of these modes is hard to attract audiences’ attention and maintain their sustainable attention. MG animations endow audiences with the stronger and more abundant visual stimulation by virtue of the abundant and changeable dynamic graphic frames and interesting dynamic expression. Therefore, MG animations are necessary choices for audiences’ aesthetic level and visual cognitive rules in the new media era. The biggest advantages of the application of MG in MOOC lies in that animation can be used to simulate image experiments that cannot be obtained, and to present designers’ creativity without restrictions. The use of animation can visually present abstract concepts, making the expression of contents clearer and more eye-catching. Besides, the application of animation can also make teaching a dynamic and interactive learning space that can help students to master knowledge more easily.




Table 2. MG animation-oriented MOOC characteristics



MG characteristics


MOOC characteristics

1) Short time

2) Concise and straightforward information expression

3) Flat design

1) Contextualization

2) Enjoyment

3) Visualization






MG animation-oriented MOOC characteristics

1) Knowledge visualization 

2) Gynamic diverse graphics representation formalisms

3) Strong enjoyment and motivation of students’ learning interest



4. Case Analysis-NASA’s Voyager Mission


In the animation of NASA’s Voyager Mission, the complex problem of NASA’s Voyager Mission is simplified. The graphics in the picture are interesting and appealing, which is more likely to attract learners’ interest. In this animation, the colorful pictures, diversified transition animation effects, and smooth graphic animation have both the dynamic beauty of animation art and the formal beauty of visual language, which fully demonstrates that the visual language of MG animation is more colorful. (e.g., “Fig. 1”) It is mainly reflected in the following aspects:

1) Knowledge visualization: the short film NASAs Voyager Mission only has 2:56 of duration. The duration of short films ranges from 5min to 30min. This short film reveals the boring and complicated voyager mission in a vivid animation. The abstract knowledge is visualized and it is convenient for comprehension. This film has no complicated figure relationship, but shows up the flat symbols, including the earth, rocket, and ejector. It is popular and easy to understand. Ranging from projectile demonstration operation to moving trajectory in the outer space demonstrates the experimental process of the Voyager. The complicated theory is more intuitively and accurately elaborated, making a profound impression on learners.

2) The diversified dynamic presentation: this film has the free and simple sport performance. Some of them refer to the graphic movement. The other part means the lens movement. The earth moves forward in a flickering way. Meanwhile, it is emphasized by the Voyager. This greatly expands the animation space and pays more attention to the logical reflection on the experimental works. Instead, it has no excessive limitations of other factors. The exaggerated deformation of the earth or characters is the lightspot in animations. Those changes won’t regard the time or space as the shackles. It fully develops the imagination of the animation creator in physical truth, thus audiences are satisfied in a large range.

3) Strong enjoyment: characters, graphs and images relating to the Voyager are revealed in the dynamic effect. It has the diversified presentations and strong visual convey effect. The dense and unintelligible information is reminded through the voiceover and sound effect. With the funny and humorous language, students gain information in pleasure, so their learning interest will be motivated and learning efficiency will be enhanced.

MG animation-oriented MOOC is based on the plane design. The dynamic deformation effect reveals the characters, graphs and images of teaching contents in the form of concise and vivid language. As a whole, MG animation-oriented MOOC is embellished by complicated and boring theory thus the teaching process and results will be more intuitive, accurate, and understandable, making people impressive.








Fig. 1 NASA’s Voyager Mission


5. Conclusion


MG animation combines graphic design with animation technology, which is interesting and clear in information transmission. The combination of technology and art has become a new form of MOOC production. The production cycle of MG animation is shorter, and the rendering effect is better, which reduces learning cost and speeds up production progress. With the advantages of MG animation, MOOC can be more dynamic and visualized, thus enhancing the application and teaching of MOOC. The application of MG animation into the teaching of MOOC can change the current problems of low learning efficiency and high dropout rate in MOOC teaching, at the same time, improve the design of teaching video. It makes MOOC teaching video more intuitive, improves the effectiveness of experiential learning and information transmission, and optimizes course quality and teaching effect.

Based on teaching video of MOOC, this study analyzes video of high-quality case courses, and finally concludes some points and inspirations of MG animation in video of MOOC teaching. Firstly, the MOOC of MG animation class presents the complex text knowledge in the form of abstract animation, sound and graphics, which makes the information more intuitive and accurate, conveys information in a clear way, and enhances the visualization effect of knowledge. Secondly, in the MOOC of MG animation, MBE, illustration, flat design and other forms of dynamic deduction have appeared in the MOOC with text, graphics and other elements as the main elements. These dynamic expressions are simple and generous in design, reasonable in color and uniform in style, which enhance the effect of the picture on information guidance. In this way, the information is concise and straightforward, and different dynamic expressions express different emotions, which is in line with learners' visual aesthetics. Thirdly, the teaching content is presented dynamically, with various dynamic forms, and the effect of visual communication is strong. The information is prompted through narration, sound effect and music, which is consistent with learners' cognition of audio-visual information, arouses learners' interest in learning and improves their learning efficiency. These features aim to provide references for improving the attractiveness of MOOC teaching video, perfecting learners' learning experience, and promoting the quality and completion rate of courses. It should be noted that the inspiration of MG animation in the MOOC teaching video analyzed and summarized in this study is only based on the analysis of selected quality cases, and the subsequent studies may also involve some cases with poor teaching effects to verify each other. At the same time, the research conclusion still needs further tests of research and practice. The author believes that the quality of MOOC will be improved continuously with constant practice and exploration, and their attractiveness will also continue to grow to bring more high-quality education resources to learners around the world.





[1] Kang Yeqin. “Post MOOC Era of Online Education Analysis of SPOC,” Tsinghua Journal of Education. Beijing, vol. 1, pp. 85, Jan 2014

[2] Wang Dawei. Research on the Application of Visual Traditional Elements in Animated Character Design, 1st ed., vol. 1, Xi An: Xi’an University of Technology Press, 2008, pp. 16-18.

[3] Yu Rong. Discussion on Flat Interface Design and Future Development Trend, 1st ed., vol.1, Hang Zhou: Hangzhou Normal University Press, 2015, pp. 12-13.