Animoto makes you look good…really good. Their simple interface makes creating professional quality slideshows soooooooo easy. If you don’t know about this site, go there now. You can get started making videos of up to 30 seconds in length without paying anything.
Even better, if you’re a teacher, the good folks at Animoto will give you a free, full-access educator’s account that gives you (and your students) six months of full service. When your six months are up, just contact them, and they will keep hooking you up with new codes and more service. Some of the themes and features require a professional account (another paid level), but the choices connected with free educator accounts are vast.
I was recently playing around on my phone and made this video in less than 30 minutes. The mobile app is quite elegant and user friendly. That short video inspired me to offer Animoto to all the grade 10 students at Frankfurt International School.
I am a classroom teacher and year head. One of my duties as year head is to plan the yearly grade level trip. After this year’s visit to Berlin, I wanted students to make scrapbooks in any medium they chose. Many used Animoto, and setting them up with free accounts was just a matter of emailing Animoto and then sharing the specific code. I gave them no instruction in how to use the program; they just got to work.
When I use Animoto in the classroom, it is most often in this same way. I might give some tips and tricks (see below), but it is mostly something students work out on their own. Here are some of the ways my students have used Animoto in our classroom:
- Animating original poetry (sorry…I did this years ago so the links are all dead now)
- Creating commercials (within a presentation…or as the presentation)
- Book trailers
- Class videographers create a slideshow of the week’s learning
Animoto Tips and Tricks:
Animoto limits the number of words one can fit on a slide. That’s a good thing. Brevity is key. And beautiful. And necessary. And sophisticated. And really difficult for students (and English teachers).
If you need a few more words or just want text with a different look, you can easily use PowerPoint to create jpegs. These images can then be uploaded to Animoto like any other.
- Create your desired text in PowerPoint. (NOTE: keep plenty of space between your text and the borders of the slide. Animoto might cut off some text otherwise).
- When ready, choose “Save As” and select .jpeg
- Your slides will become .jpeg images
- Find the folder on your computer that contains your slides
- Upload the images to Animoto like any other image
- NOTE: For text-heavy slides (or words requiring more emphasis), upload the image twice and just place duplicates side by side. Your audience will find the text easier to read. In Animoto, you can also star/highlight individual slides for added emphasis.
Student Animotos from the FIS Berlin Trip 2014:
Every time I ask my students to create something open-ended, somebody surprises me. Some individual shows a side of himself or herself I never knew existed. During the Berlin Scrapbook task, Haruki S blew my mind. I always tell my students that an artist is someone who finds the extraordinary in the ordinary. Artists walk by the same things we do, but they present our world back to us in a new, provocative way. Using his iPhone and his keen artistic eye, Haruki created this video. I realize that there are copyright issues in regard to the music, so I’m going to tackle that issue later in the year. However, the imagery amazed me. I was there. I saw the same things he saw. But, he reflects them back to us in a truly memorable way. Such moments in the classroom are just pure magic:
Haruki S. Berlin Scrapbook
*Animoto was NOT used.