About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 3883-3890
Publication year: 2018
ISBN: 978-84-697-9480-7
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2018.0755

Conference name: 12th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 5-7 March, 2018
Location: Valencia, Spain

SERIOUS COMICS: A NEW APPROACH FOR SCIENCE COMMUNICATION AND LEARNING

S.B. Linek1, M. Huff2

1ZBW Leibniz Information Centre for Economics (GERMANY)
2German Institute for Adult Education (GERMANY)
This paper presents a new approach called serious comics. It combines the long-term trend to infotainment, edutainment, and gamification with the rising importance of graphics in Web 2.0 and in science communication. Thereby, serious comics are understood in analogy to serious games. According to our definition, serious comics make use of the language of comics for science communication, academic information, and learning. The language of comics is unique in several ways. The combination of words and pictures served a mutual understanding and there are fluent boundaries between words and pictures. For example, the way words are depicted (e.g., shape, size, and color) added surplus meaning (e.g., emotion, loudness). Thereby, in comics words can portray pictorial aspects and pictures can represent verbal aspects.

The idea of using graphical novels in academia is not new. However, until now the approaches are rather pragmatic without scientific foundation. In comparison, our approach of serious comics offers a systematic and scientifically founded view of the use of comics for academia in general including science communication, open science and citizen science as well as educational purposes.

In this contribution, we introduce the concept of serious comics and provide a short definition and description of the context. Furthermore, we explore relevant existing related approaches and empirical findings. For instance, research on narrative understanding of (entertaining) conventional comics has provided important scientific insights in the understanding of unfolding pictorial events. As an example, actively acting characters (“agents”) are processed prioritized over characters receiving the action (“patient”). Thus, the semantic structure of an image determines comprehension processes. Additionally, many instructional principles (e.g., spatial contiguity principle, i.e., the verbal explanations should be placed near to the related picture) from educational psychology research can be applied to serious comics as well. In addition, findings on serious games (e.g., design of game characters) can deliver useful insight on serious comics.

After the definition of serious comics and the description of related research, we provide a systematic classification of serious comics (in relation to other approaches) that considers two dimensions: The first dimension relates to the characteristics of the combination of pictures and words with respect to the information channels (textual, graphical) and the information modality (auditory, visual). The second dimension differentiates between conventional information delivery, infotainment, and entertainment.

Subsequently, we illustrate advantages (e.g., appealing young scientists) and limitations (e.g., risk of oversimplification) of serious comics. Furthermore, we provide an overview of possible application fields besides learning, e.g., for science communication, open science, and citizen science. Also, we identify important open research questions on serious comics. The paper closes with a short resume.
@InProceedings{LINEK2018SER,
author = {Linek, S.B. and Huff, M.},
title = {SERIOUS COMICS: A NEW APPROACH FOR SCIENCE COMMUNICATION AND LEARNING},
series = {12th International Technology, Education and Development Conference},
booktitle = {INTED2018 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-697-9480-7},
issn = {2340-1079},
doi = {10.21125/inted.2018.0755},
url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.21125/inted.2018.0755},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Valencia, Spain},
month = {5-7 March, 2018},
year = {2018},
pages = {3883-3890}}
TY - CONF
AU - S.B. Linek AU - M. Huff
TI - SERIOUS COMICS: A NEW APPROACH FOR SCIENCE COMMUNICATION AND LEARNING
SN - 978-84-697-9480-7/2340-1079
DO - 10.21125/inted.2018.0755
PY - 2018
Y1 - 5-7 March, 2018
CI - Valencia, Spain
JO - 12th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
JA - INTED2018 Proceedings
SP - 3883
EP - 3890
ER -
S.B. Linek, M. Huff (2018) SERIOUS COMICS: A NEW APPROACH FOR SCIENCE COMMUNICATION AND LEARNING, INTED2018 Proceedings, pp. 3883-3890.
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