Cartoons & Illustrations in Education

Thursday 13th January 2022

  • #UKEdChat session 585
  • Pictures can show things that nothing else can.
  • Use of cartoons, illustrations and animations can be expanded to augment teaching and learning.
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In my youth, I may have been told off once or twice for looking at cartoons at the back of the class, and I say now what I said then: they are educational!

While it may be more accurate to say that they ‘can be’ educational. Taking the definition to its widest, cartoons, both of the animated variety, as well as still, illustrated cartoons, can be seen in textbooks, online resources and pretty much every government initiative for the last 20 years. Yet, most of the time these colourful characters, animated sprites or illustrations go largely unnoticed.

One of the few times that these images come to the fore in education is the story book, and the drawings from Quentin Blake will forever be synonymous with my childhood reading of Roald Dahl. These pictures are an integral part of the reading experience, and augment the descriptions of the text to create magical worlds to explore.

But illustrations and animations can aid imaginations. One of my favourite animation tools is the humble flick-book, where my learners can take the first steps from changing a static idea into something with a spark of life and movement. An activity which never fails to get a reaction! But an educator can also reverse the process and pause something that is moving and previously difficult to see. Seeing a process broken down in steps in picture form, or the ability to rewind and/or watch something in slow motion is a powerful educational tool.

Many subjects embrace illustrations, such as in atomic and molecular structure in science, the progression of weathering in geography, or the speech bubble cartoons in language classes. Yet, they are far from fully utilised and could be expanded to bring clearer explanations in many more contexts.

There are many barriers to using cartoons and illustrations, perhaps the primary one being that teachers feel that they do not have the skills to create such images if something is not readily available. No-one does to start with, and like all teaching and learning, these things require practice.

In this #UKEdChat session, which took place on Thursday 12th January 2022 at 8pm(UK), we discussed how to use cartoons, illustrations and animation to further the learning of your pupils, both by using these to inform, but also as a creative medium in their own right.


  1. Overall, in your opinion, do cartoons have a positive or negative impact on education?
  2. What is the main way you use illustrations and cartoons in your own subject area?
  3. Cite an example how animation be used to help teachers explain something in your subject area to learners.
  4. How can teachers improve and expand their use of instructional drawings and cartoons in their teaching?
  5. How does the use of cartoons and illustrations change between younger and older learners?
  6. How can teachers help develop the animation skills of their learners?
  7. What aspect of using animation, cartoons and illustration do you want to improve within your own teaching?
  8. Does animation, cartoons and illustration have a role in teacher CPD? If so, can you suggest examples?

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About @ICTmagic 780 Articles
Martin Burrett is the editor of our popular UKEdMagazine, along with curating resources in the ICTMagic section, and free resources for teachers on UKEd.Directory

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