Gifs in Education – Why they work

(sidenote, it’s pronounced jif, like, “I’ll be there in a jiffy”. I won’t get mad if you say it with a hard G, but certain types of pedantic nerds will. So be careful)

If you’ve followed me at all on twitter, you’ve probably noticed that I post a lot of gifs. The reason for this boils down to one question, “how do I best get my message across?”.

Option 1. 140 characters (about 28 words)
In my maths class students demonstrate their understanding by teaching lessons to other students via a lightboard and in video format.

Option 2. An image

Option 3. A Gif

But it’s not just twitter where my “giffing” has reached fever pitch. I use gifs in my classroom a lot.

I teach in a flipped classroom, which means that any new content is delivered via video. These videos are usually between 1-6 minutes in length. Students watch these videos, learn the new content and then set about applying it.

But sometimes you need a little reminder about how to do things. Maybe you’re revising for an exam and you’ve forgotten a key part of the process. Options?

  1. You could flip to the answers in the back of the book. A static image, with or without the working.
  2. You could go back to the video and try to find the spot where I addressed the thing you’re having trouble with. Time consuming.
  3. Or you could watch my super sped up gifs. They look something like this.

You’ve already seen the video, this is just to jog your memory about the key point and get going again.

And often it’s not about the end result, it’s about the process. Watch the process here.

Remember, you’ve seen the videos before, you can hear the sound of my voice as I get to the part that is momentarily escaping your mind.

But it’s not just for revision. Sometimes a student (or a fellow teacher) might email you with a question that’s easy to fix but difficult to explain without a visual.

Or sometimes you just need to see the same thing over and over and over again until it starts to make sense and you can do it yourself.



So give a gif a go with your class. Once you start using them, you’ll see “giffable” moments everywhere!

Useful tools:
Screencastify and screencastomatic will both create gifs.
There is an abundance of gifmakers on the app store for Ipad users.





  1. This is cool! I’d never thought about using gifa in education. Question … How did you create the perimeter one? Do you put your iPad on a stand? This would be great for reminding my Year 4 students about the requirements for creating graphs.

    1. I use a document camera. The best and cheapest I’ve found is this one. you can also get document camera stands for your phone if you’d prefer. I’d highly recommend a document camera though, there are so many uses for them, both for making videos and for demonstrating things via your a projector in your classroom. I also use mine to give video feedback on drafts.

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