At EdventureLabs, we were trying to teach kids age (5-7,) to represent numbers on the Abacus. First we created a small animation video with a little story line. We took help of a professional animation expert. However, we quickly realized that kids have very little attention span and if they are not able to interact with what they are seeing on the screen, they quickly (in less then 30 secs) zone-out. Also animation was expensive and had a huge turn-around time even if we wanted to make a small change. Clearly a bad strategy.
Inspired by lot of mobile games, we came up with a hypothesis that if we created inline instructions and used micro-simulations, then the kids would have a better retention power and hence be able to learn much better. We wanted to quickly test this hypothesis.
However we had not yet built an app, so building an app and creating a simulation would take us a few days. But we wanted to quickly test the simulation hypothesis to see its effectiveness. So we took a short-cut.
We quickly (in less than 10 mins) found a bunch of images on the net, created a presentation and added a bunch of transition to create an animation effect. Then we exported this presentation out as a movie.
Now the kids were able to watch this 10 second movie, like they would see a simulation/inline instruction in our app. Once the simulation showed how to represent a number, we would ask the kid to move the right beads on the abacus. Of course the beads would not move, but we would be able to test whether the kids tried to move the right beads and hence assert if they remembered how to represent number. If they could, we would ask them to represent other numbers which were not shown in the simulation to see if they can extrapolate what they just learned and apply the logic for other numbers. Most kids could do simple numbers, but were not able to do all the numbers. Another good learning from this experiment.
Anyway, here is the very first video we created to test our simulation hypothesis.