6 Ways to Use GIFs in the Classroom

| By Yonah Kirschner, Program Manager, DigitalJLearning Network

You’re probably thinking, “Wait, aren’t GIFs those silly little video clips that I’m always seeing on Buzzfeed?” The answer is "Yes!" But how could those goofy moving images be used for education?



I was pleasantly surprised to find out that there’s actually many ways to use GIFs in the classroom. To discover all those ways to use GIFs, we started with this question: What can you do with animation that you can’t do with plain text? Fortunately, you can do a whole lot! Here are the top ways both you and your learners can use GIFs in the classroom:

  • Bring static content to life. Textbooks are filled with boring, static blocks of text, but moving images are fun and engaging!

  • Break down a process into steps. Instead of telling your students the directions over and over again, just make a GIF for each step. Then have your students break down a process they’re studying into steps for their classmates, like the steps to a science experiment or for creating a complex art project.

  • Call attention to something important. GIFs are short and sweet, so when students see one, they’ll know it’s important. After all, you took the time to create it for them!

  • Show a sequence or timeline. GIFs really are a teacher’s best friend. If you want students to remember all those parts of a sequence, just make a GIF for each one. Better yet, have the students make their own! Imagine a GIF for each stage of an historical event, or a GIF for each piece of a timeline.

  • Make content memorable. There’s nothing like a funny GIF-meme to keep your students learning and laughing. Why not have a contest for who can make the funniest GIF based on the day’s lesson?

  • Show instead of tell. Not every student can demonstrate learning through writing. Give your students the option of showing what they learned through GIFs instead!


Ready to use GIFs in your classroom? Here are some great GIF-creating tools!
MakeGIF Video Capture: This is a Google Chrome extension and automatically detects if a GIF can be created from what is on your screen. Very easy to use!
LICEcap: This tool has more advanced options and needs to be downloaded to your computer.
ezgif.com: This is a great tool for adding text to GIFs.


This post is based on a super fun session from ISTE 2015 called “The Future will be GIF’ed: Flipping Learning Using Animated GIFs,” presented by Ben Wilkoff.