Review by Andrea Meyers, Common Sense Education | Updated September 2018
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iMovie

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Movie editor will satisfy beginner and intermediate creators

Subjects & skills
Subjects
  • Arts

Skills
  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Creativity
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
5–12
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Pros: Themes and templates make it easy to get started. Projects can transfer seamlessly from mobile to Mac.

Cons: Students will outgrow the limited options for title editing, compositing, and layering.

Bottom Line: Despite some limitations with editing, it’s the perfect tool to get teachers and students started with digital video production.

iMovie is an ideal introductory editing tool for Apple classrooms, especially 1:1 classrooms (with either tablets or Macs).  It can support project-based learning and build students' digital storytelling skills. Before diving into iMovie, introduce students to storyboarding as a way to organize their ideas and design the video. Students can start using pen and paper, and then gather the necessary footage and images to create their vision. After shooting, have them transition to iMovie's built-in storyboarding tool. This allows them to quickly develop a plan for their finished project, and they can use that to begin selecting clips to drop into their timeline.

In terms of projects, iMovie can satisfy just about any need for demonstrating learning. Students can use iMovie to develop a digital portfolio, including everything from book trailers to interviews to collaborative conversations to presentations. Teachers can also record demonstrations and lessons for a flipped classroom or for students who need additional assistance and differentiation.

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iMovie is an iOS app for video production that works on iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. It boils down the detailed editing of pro-level software like Adobe Premiere into the essentials. With iMovie, students use photos and video clips to build a project timeline and customize it with transitions, audio, and special effects. The app includes a range of templates and themes for movies and trailers, as well as project filters that control the overall color. Each theme has its own music, or students can upload public domain or Creative Commons music via Garage Band, iCloud, or other online storage sites. With iCloud integration, students can easily switch between devices and save work. Like other apps from Apple, it's designed for simplicity and ease of use with touch, swipe, and drag. Students can simply drag clips to rearrange them on the timeline. Touch the settings button to change filters, themes, and fades. Tap the plus sign to add clips, photos, and audio files. Connect a Bluetooth keyboard and users have increased editing control with shortcuts. When finished, a couple taps will publish or share the video.

The ease of use does come with a few constraints. Editing on small screens feels somewhat cumbersome, so iPads or Macs are probably the best choice for classroom use. Video makers who are used to expert editing features such as compositing, A roll and B roll, multiple audio and video layers, text manipulation, and more detailed control will probably find iMovie to be too basic. 

Video creation is popular among teachers and students, and can fulfill a variety of Common Core ELA and state standards. Moreover, basic video production and editing skills are becoming an increasingly important way for students to express themselves on social media and in the world. iMovie can offer students a platform with which to explore these skills and express themselves. Unfortunately, iMovie, like other Apple products, lacks instruction and relies mostly on self-driven learning (and use of the Help menu). With this in mind, teachers will want to seek out support materials -- like YouTube tutorials -- to help students learn the basics. Teachers should also focus learners on the story to be told, and not just the technical skills, to marry production and storytelling.

Beyond student-created videos, teachers themselves will find iMovie provides many instructional benefits. Whether you want to transition to a flipped classroom or create a library of tutorials for your classroom, iMovie offers a just-flexible-enough option to quickly create professional videos. It may not have advanced editing features, but for anyone who is just beginning to create videos in the classroom and wants a simple uncluttered interface, iMovie is a good place to start.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Students will enjoy creating movies with their own photos and video clips and sharing them both in the classroom and online.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

This is a great introductory tool for teaching media production. Students gain technical skills but also focus on the art of multi-modal storytelling.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Like other Apple iOS apps, help is built into the app, but it doesn't have a step-by-step tutorial. You can find support on the Apple website and plenty of user community videos on YouTube. iMovie is offered in 34 languages. 


Common Sense Reviewer
Andrea Meyers Instructional Facilitator of Technology

Teacher Reviews

(See all 51 reviews) (51 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Michelle B. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Cabell County Career Technology Center
Huntington, United States
Great tool for making every day projects look more professional!
I enjoy using this in my classroom. It is now free for IOS8 devices, which makes it more student friendly. Presentation is important and students need to know how to make their work more appealing and how to keep attention focused on what they are presenting. iMovie makes this possible.
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