It’s unusual for me to write a blog post extolling the virtues of a single edtech tool – I usually prefer a rundown of several resource that can be used for any given subject, because there are so many brilliant tools out there to feature and usually so many advantages and disadvantages to using each one. But Animoto is a special case! It is incredibly easy to use, which is a huge plus for the classroom, but also presents a really wide and flexible range of possible uses, which isn’t always the case with the simpler end of edtech tools.
If you’re not already familiar with Animoto, it’s a website that allows you to make your own videos by choosing a background template from a wide range of options, adding a piece of music, and then creating a completely unique compilation of photographs, video clips and text, which is then all magically pulled together into an incredibly professional finished product.
It’s clever because although it technically ‘animates’ the clips by having them move across the screen, old-school PowerPoint style, (though it looks a lot cooler than PowerPoint, trust me), no actual animating is required on the part of the student, they simply choose their pictures and pop them in the right slots. But this doesn’t mean students are necessarily artistically limited – the pictures they upload don’t have to be photographs, they could be images of artwork or drawings, sketches, or video clips of animation they’ve created using other tools online.
The real beauty of Animoto is its sheer, joyful flexibility. The templates and music (there’s a fairly well-stocked library of tracks, but you can also use your own – remember to help students learn how to make sure a piece is royalty free before they use it) are varied enough to give a wide range of options. So the resulting final products can be as different as a fun and jazzy Christmas message from your class, or a formal presentation to be used in the science classroom.
The text inserts are the second great feature – they enable the video creator to talk the viewer through what is going on, and the order of tiles is completely customisable, so you could have three pictures followed by a single piece of text or alternate text and images throughout – whatever works for your presentation. Only a relatively small amount of text fits in each tile, but this is actually quite a positive thing, as it encourages users to keep the pace up and move the viewer forward smoothly through the journey of the video. The simplicity of writing a piece of text followed by an ellipsis… and then a picture or video appearing afterwards offers a wealth of creative options, from suspense to humour, (if, for example, an unexpected picture follows text that has lead the viewer to expect something else.) This feature makes it a beautiful tool for teaching students about storytelling and how to build suspense and carry an audience with you.
Finally, Animoto makes distribution a breeze, with the option to view the finished product on the site itself, or to export it to another channel such as YouTube, where it might be easier to share and attract multiple views or to embed into a school or personal website.
Animoto are also great supporters of education with special account offerings for schools. Check out more at: http://animoto.com/pro/education.
Have you used Animoto with your students? Let us know what you use it for below!