Online animation is one of the most exciting advances in education technology, allowing students the opportunity to be endlessly creative in designing their own comic strips, movies and more. It’s a fantastic way to liven up the classroom and is guaranteed to be a big hit with young and older students alike, due to the great range of websites available and their ability to both cater to simplicity and accommodate more complex creations.
With the advent of this plethora of great new sites, art and drawing are no longer only for the art class – they can be brought to bear on almost any subject and can be particularly useful for lightening otherwise dry topic material. You can make a cartoon or an animation out of any topic, from creating your own animated version of a Shakespeare play to a virtual model of ionic and covalent chemical bonding! Best of all, the excitement of creating their own project is guaranteed to animate (sorry couldn’t resist!) your students no matter what the subject matter.
Topping the list, GoAnimate is considered the most popular animation website and is by far the most professional. Known as the fastest, easiest way to make a video, GoAnimate is used by businesses, schools and individuals to create slick and stylish animations. With video templates and easy character creation, the site is perfect for young students venturing into animation all the way up to seniors and professionals looking for a fun way to present ideas. It is free to sign up to GoAnimate and discounts are offered for education purposes. Features for schools include: private and secure environment, school-safe content, content moderation and group management.
FluxTime offers a great simple model for classes where you want students just to be able to get stuck in straight away. The free animation option guides students through a simple, easy-to-follow process, from choosing a background to adding objects and then creating movements for them, so the finished product can be completed easily in the space of a single lesson. Fantastic for lessons when you want students to create more than one animation, or when you only want to devote a small portion of the lesson time to this activity. The only downside is that within the free package it isn’t possible to save animations to view later, though you can e-mail them to friends once completed!
[update: DoInk is no longer providing an online service - apps only]
DoInk is a slightly more sophisticated platform ideal for older students who want to add more detail and extra features such as text into their projects. The option to use community art and templates means that this would be a great program to use for an animation project where you want to start students off with a uniform template such as a background or initial diagram and then encourage them to add their own features.
DoInk also has an iPhone/iPad app, DoInk Express, that lets students create animations on their devices. Here is a short clip for a taste of what it can do:
The brilliant thing about Flipbook is its absolute simplicity – you can get started without a moment’s delay as soon as you enter the website – no need even to download Java. The platform is brilliantly simply designed – on each page of your flipbook you simply select your brush size and colour then create the image to your own satisfaction. Turning to the next page your initial image appears faded in the background to enable you to work from it when drawing the next image in your book, making it easy for even quite young kids to make successful books whose pictures change slowly from one position to the next. A fantastic resource for using with groups, for example in a BYOD (bring your own device) setting, as teams of students could create flipbooks together by taking it in turns to illustrate one page each at a time. The finished products give a real sense of satisfaction and make a great group-viewing session at the end.
5. Zimmer Twins
This is a great platform for students to make a simple animated movie. The tools are relatively simple to use but there is a lot of choice so this is perfect for mid-level students. Particularly useful for animations where the focus will be on characters – whether recreating a novel or producing their own play or sitcom – as it allows the option to choose from details such as facial expressions and human activities such as talking on a phone or using a loud speaker, as well as actions like thinking and whispering.
A far, far more advanced program for much older students or those who are studying maths or computer science, Anim8or is a great way to bring algebraic and calculus functions to life. It’s not for the faint-hearted (nor the digitally illiterate!) but though complex it does include extremely clear and easy-to-follow manuals, instructions and tutorials. Certainly one for extended projects not one-off lessons, as it will take students some time to master, but a fantastic platform for those wanting to push their maths and computer skills further in a fun and interesting context.
Do you use animation sites in the classroom? Let us know which ones you find most successful for student animation and share your recommendations below!