Is a GIF Worth a Thousand Words? Understanding the Use of Dynamic Graphical Illustrations for Procedural Knowledge Sharing on wikiHow
European Society for Socially Embedded Technologies (EUSSET)
Informational presentations in Graphics Interchange Format (GIF), have been commonly used to convey emotional, cultural, and non-verbal cues in computer-mediated communication. However, the usage and impact of animated GIFs in the sharing and consumption of procedural knowledge, such as how-to instructions, remains unclear. In this paper, we leverage an online collaborative procedural knowledge-sharing platform – wikiHow to investigate the roles of GIFs in the construction and editing of How-To tutorials and how multimodal tutorials impact learners’ perception and learning from the shared expositions. Through data analytics of archived editing histories, article content and user ratings of wikiHow pages, we found that tutorials consisting of multiple modalities, including animated GIFs and images in addition to text, in general introduced more edits and more textual content compared with text-only articles. When learners learned from these wikiHow tutorials, the tutorials with rich modalities also received higher usefulness evaluation from learners, and accumulated more success stories from the learners in following the tutorials to perform procedural tasks. We discuss the implications for future research on multimodal factors for collaborative procedural knowledge sharing.