Cartoons Are Good for Learning

2 Aug

Need a TrainerMany instructional designers, trainers, and educators already know the value of cartoons as a teaching device. For example, authors Audrey C. Rule, Derek A. Sallis, and J. Ana Donaldson wrote in an article for the Eric Resource Information Center (ERIC) web portal that “Incorporating humor through content-related cartoons is an effective way to engage students in deeper understanding of content and creative play with language.” Their article address a number of ways to help preservice teachers use cartoons to help elementary school students learn scientific concepts.

While the article may seem a bit too scholarly for most cartoon fans, it makes a good case for using cartoon humor as an educational tool in general and science in particular.

Another article makes a similar argument for adult learners. Eric Parks, Ph.D. is President/CEO of ASK International and a noted elearning philosopher. He has written for many industry publications including Training Magazine, Online Learning Magazine and IOMA Reports.

In an article for, Parks writes about how he designed the elearning instruction for a major Fortune 500 client. Part of the design was to use eight characters to relay different aspects of the different learning objectives. His team chose to use cartoons.

“We chose to design custom cartoon-style graphics for the characters, and used photos of the products highly treated in Photoshop to minimize their size,” writes Parks. “Our goal was a 10-15 second screen display. If longer, we made sure that text would appear quickly on the screen allowing users to have something to read as their graphic illustrations loaded more slowly. Now we had what we thought was a motivating design and a workable graphic treatment.”

There you go. Whether you choose to design a curriculum for children or a four-week seminar for adults, cartoons can often make the difference between getting through or getting ignored.

Whenever I see a how-to book or some other kind of text designed to teach me something illustrated with cartoons, I am not only inclined to read it, I am compelled to buy it.

If you are in the business of designing learning experiences, writing textbooks, or teaching science to fifth graders, look into cartoons as a way to get those ideas across. You can try to develop your own, but, if you are like most people, you will quickly realize that cartooning is not as easy as it looks.

There is an answer, however. There are hundreds of sources for cartoons on a great variety of ideas. These cartoons are easily available at a nominal fee. You can also contact a cartoonist and ask for a cartoon on a specific idea. Usually, a cartoonist will have one that is perfect. If not, it isn’t that expensive to purchase one-time rights for a cartoon that the cartoonist will use again and again in the future.

If you like my stuff, you can let me know. Just e-mail I will either have the perfect cartoon for you, or I will create one.

For more information about the articles mentioned, go to the following:


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