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The Big Idea: making the most of RSA Animates in school using a new collaborative website,, by Ewan McIntosh FRSA, Founder of

RSA Animates have proven irresistible intellectual nuggets for many "grown ups", and evidence suggests they help us learn about topics better. But what about their potential for little 'uns and teens at school?

RSA Animates can undoubtedly provide rich stimulus for learning, and the visual representation of abstract or complex ideas has become increasingly admired by educators all over the world. However, harnessing these clips successfully is not necessarily obvious or easy for educators who've not tried before.

RSA Animates have proven irresistible intellectual nuggets for many "grown ups". But what about their potential for little 'uns and teens at school?

What's WatchDrawThink?

WatchDrawThink is a new RSA Catalyst-supported project launched by Ewan McIntosh FRSA and colleagues Peter Ford and Tom Barrett FRSA at education firm NoTosh. The collaborative site aims to provide a space for teachers to share ideas, example lessons or projects where students use RSA Animates for their learning. The idea is that teachers will get inspiration on how they might use a whole or part of an RSA Animate video as an initial stimulus or part of an immersive discovery session on a given topic.

Why use RSA Animates in school?

RSA Animates have tended not to be used widely in school, perhaps because they handle genuinely complex cross-curricular knowledge. But it's the very visualisation that is so tantalising, that also makes the comprehension of these complex areas of knowledge easier, and the viewer's chances of retaining the message so much better. Professor Richard Wiseman's own research study of RSA Animates showed that the visualisation used could help viewers retain up to 22% more information than had they just listened to the audio alone.  You can watch Richard Wiseman and Andrew Park, the illustrator, talk about this at an RSA Event.

Support from Catalyst helped deliver an initial session with RSA Academies teachers in March, where the potential for their use within the English curriculum was confirmed. Teachers spotted relevance to the curriculum in areas as diverse as physical education (Dan Pink: The SurprisingTruth of What Motivates Us) and mathematics (Renata Saleci on The Paradox of Choice), as well as a blanket appreciation of their potential use in language arts, design and primary education.

WatchDrawThink's first prototype

Launching as a prototype platform in time for teachers to get engaged in the last term of this school session, WatchDrawThink is crowdsourcing as many light-touch - or involved - ways as possible to harness three particularly rich RSA Animate clips in the classroom. Anyone, student, teacher or parent, can jump onto the site and add their innovative, short, sharp idea for handling a segment or whole clip to achieve a specific curricular goal or to create an engaging task with the clip.

Over time, based on how people use the site in the first couple of months, the website will also provide support from the NoTosh Team and RSA Academies with specific ideas and advice on:

  • How to plan a competence-based unit of work or set of lessons that encourages student-led research on the back of an RSA Animate stimulus
  • Different ways to use visualisation to express knowledge and understanding on a topic, à la RSA Animate.

How you can get involved

Teachers and students can get involved this term and see which of the RSA Animates might help you explain a new, complex topic in a simple way. Use the WatchDrawThink website, Twitter hashtag #watchdrawthink or Facebook page to share your own lesson outcomes (videos, images, texts, comments, blog posts) and share further ideas.

If you're a parent or Governor, share the site with your child's teacher.

You can visit the WatchDrawThink website, follow Ewan on Twitter @ewanmcintosh or email him at

To get help from RSA Catalyst for your social venture visit


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