Animated GIFs have been featured on this site as regular media assignments in the EdMedia program as a means to practice techniques in photography, videography and web publishing to name a few. The GIF JAM occuring for the EdMedia Monday this March 14th will showcase sources of GIFs, excellent courses and tools for making GIFS and open a discussion about how they can be used for educational purposes. ON this post I will try to cover some of the history of the GIF, review past educational GIF projects and point you to some next steps for using GIFs in your course, or just for playing around.


To kick things off lets go back the beginning and review some GIFstory. GIF stands for Graphics Interchange Format and its important to remember how integral the characteristic of this format have led to the GIFs proliferation.

historyYou can read this piece from the website Mashable for good synopsis on the history of the GIF and also check out this 6 min documenary covering the rise of the GIF to from its inception in 1987 to today.

GIFs Today

Today GIFS can be found everywhere. The popular website Giphy has become the defacto clearing house for sharing and showing all the latest, and the GIF Keyboard is popping up on many social media platforms including twitter and facebook. I have posted a few of my favorite sites and recent pages below, but you do not have to look far to find an animated GIF these days.

Eg. of Cool GIFS


GIFs in Education

As a form of cultural expression you may be surprised to learn that the animated GIF has a strong and growing place in the landscape of educational media. Several of our past EMP participants have created GIFs for Physics, Physics, Archives, Library, Mathematics, to name a few. The assignments I’ve created have been design to test technical knowledge and use the media theory.

GIF assignment 1:

GIF assignment 2: (as OERS)

There are many great courses on the internet dedicated to the animated GIF so for further exploration please check out these pages.



How to make GIFS


Mini teaching tool: How to handle photos in the archives

In the archives, we have thousands of photos that have been produced by SFU departments over the last 50 years, plus plenty of others that are parGIF files showing the proper way to handle archival photost of the records donated by faculty, campus community members or others.

Photographic prints are vulnerable to the oils on our hands, so we ask users to always wear gloves to provide a barrier between your hands and the prints.

The paper supports that images are printed on can also become vulnerable and fragile as they age, so we show users how to carefully turn one image at a time to protect the prints.

These images are part of the F-247 collection which contains material from the Media and Public Affairs Office of SFU.



Welcome to the world of the animated GIF! One of the final tasks of our EMP program is to get our participants familiar with making and sharing media in the OPEN.  For us that means posting to the Open Educational Media site here!

The assignment as posted in Canvas was to create an animated GIF using Gifboom! and upload it as a post.  Sadly Gifboom! is no longer operational, but some alternatives have been provided in Canvas .

While this may prove to be a challenge, as a first step you may just want to comment on this post. If nothing else you can test that your account works! See you next week at the show ‘n tell!


Physics Doodles: Video and GIF

I created a short “doodle” video and a GIF to use in my PHYS 102 Physics for the Life Sciences II class. This is an algebra-based first-year course for students studying life science majors such as Biology or BPK. The video explains Faraday Law’s of Electromagnetic Induction and the GIF illustrates Lenz’s Law which is related to Faraday’s Law. Students often find the concepts behind these laws confusing so I though that learning tools that they can look at over and over again might be helpful to them.

I placed the doodle video on YouTube. It can be found here: Physics Doodle: Faraday’s Law

This is the Lenz’s Law GIF:


The Physics of a Falling Apple GIF

Here’s a GIF I made using I couldn’t get GIFBoom to work on my laptop and I do not have a Smart Phone. MakeaGif was very easy to use. You have to click on this to make it move.



And here’s a link:

Bird in the hand GIF eg. from Jason

Yesterday I was walking between meetings and happened upon a bird, about the size of small robin, that was mostly black and white, but had a striking red bib. Not recognizing it, I wanted to take picture to look it up later, so took out my phone, and slowly crept closer to get a clear shot. Thankfully it was quiet in the area and my presence did not alarm the creature. so I slowly stepped closer and took another shot. Stepped closer, another shot, closer, another shot, and with each step I was surprised the little guy did not fly off.  I managed to get within about 8-10 feet of the bird before a gust of wind came up and he decided he had had enough and took off. However, the series of photos I took , worked perfectly for the GIFBOOM app to accept from the “add from gallery” feature and I was able to create the GIF below.

To follow up on this and make it an actual “Educational Resource” I feel I would really need to identify this bird, post some links to wikipedia, and maybe ask students to explore it further or send them on another activity. But perhaps you can help out with the first part!. Is the GIF along with my text description enough to give you a lead to identify? ANy thoughts on how the media looks? or what it add to my story?

Regardless I will use my bird book at home and Identify it and post the results here.

You will also notice I have embedded a Creative Commons license within this post, (just below)  This is kind of an unnecessary step here since the site itself is available as an open resource so all content fits under our site license, but it may be a way for you to choose different permissions for your post. Also, its the final step when sharing any OER so should be a part of the assignment.
Creative Commons License
Bird in the hand GIF by @draggin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Give and take with GIF’s

When considering Open Education Resources you should be aware of the some of the broader contexts in which they are related.

Fair dealing: short excerpts are now ok to use in a controlled environment for educational purposes. Education covers us for the “dealing” part. “Fair” refers to a limited amount and only using that amount. Short excerpts and only providing that excerpt alone. For example you can use a poem from a book providing you only give access to the poem and not the entire book.

SFU’s new copy right office:

OER’s: Open Educational Resources are freely available objects that have explicit licensing on them which are available through searchable online databases like:

(OER) are freely accessible, openly licensed documents and media that are useful for teaching, learning, educational, assessment and research purposes. Although some people consider the use of an open format to be an essential characteristic of OER, this is not a universally acknowledged requirement. wikipedia

Make an OER today!

Animated GIFs have been around as long as the internet itself. It was one of the first native image formats on the web, and was the format for some of the earliest internet art. Today , GIFs are seeing a resurgence in popularity, and making them has never been easier.

In an educational context, there are endless possibilities to using this format, but some popular ways are.

To demonstrate a series of steps, like the proper way to hold and wield a kitchen blade.


To show details of scientific or medical data such as light refraction.


To animate graphs and charts



Or just to tell a story.


Use your time in class to install GIFBOOM APP in