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Animaker Video Maker & Editor
Pros: Seven different media creation tools; students can create content from templates or from scratch.
Cons: Frequent users will need to upgrade; loading videos can take a while.
Bottom Line: A great media creation tool that could be used all year long for everything from posters to videos, but teachers will need to make learning goals clear.
For teachers, Animaker would make a great utility for crafting customized classroom content that engages students as they learn -- especially if teachers personalize the content to reflect their classes. For example, a teacher could create an infographic about a topic, like the core principles of digital citizenship, and use a screencasting tool like Loom to record an accompanying video for your traditional or flipped classroom.
For learners, it'd be best to have them start with something simple like a slide presentation or video using one of the many available templates. Students with some familiarity with other media creation tools could probably just dive right in to creating a project from scratch. In terms of student projects, there are lots of possibilities, especially for combining subject-area learning and media creation. Want students to take a closer look at their writing? Use the narration feature to have them type paragraphs, or copy and paste text to have it read aloud to them as a form of self-assessment. In science, use the poster tool to get groups creating posters that present the result of experiments or research studies, or depict scientific concepts and systems. In social studies or ELA classrooms, students could dig into media literacy concepts such as propaganda, bias, and persuasive language by creating videos that try to sway the viewer toward one side of an issue. Alternatively, liven up your history class by having students create multimedia presentations on historical events that present different points of view.
Animaker Class is a website for creating and assigning a variety of animated media and presentations. Users can create videos (traditional, vertical, and video-infographic), infographics, posters, presentations, and voice-to-text presentations. Easily editable templates guide creation, enabling users to take what's there and modify it according to the assignment. It's also possible to start from scratch (though that'll be more time-consuming). Teachers can assign work and send files and messages to individuals, groups, or entire classes.
Those familiar with tools like Powtoon and Piktochart will likely have an easier time picking up the basics and starting from scratch. There's enough guidance to familiarize you fairly quickly: Dozens of developer-created YouTube tutorials help showcase features. Still, some students will find Animaker challenging, and the pre-created templates might be a better starting place. Some will find the slow loading of content and occasional dead ends frustrating, but a simple refresh usually does the trick. Also, there are lots of images to add but few free ones, so students using the free version will have to be creative with their keywords and flexible with their choices. Finally, teachers can usefully opt in to or out of social media sharing. Either way, they should ensure that students' personal information does not appear on publicly shared content.
Because of its versatility, there are so many ways teachers can enhance student learning with Animaker. It facilitates creative learning that encourages creativity, collaboration, making media, storytelling, and STEAM concepts. However, because it offers a lot of possibilities -- each with their own learning curve -- students will have to spend some time figuring out how to create the different types of content. But with this process come opportunities for skill building, and, more importantly, investing in these learning experiences can pay off over a year as students return to Animaker to demonstrate their learning and craft presentations.
One major advantage to tools like this is that they open up authentic opportunities to teach related skills. Take some time during infographic creation, for instance, to reinforce writing, editing, and proofreading skills, so that students understand the importance of creating and sharing content that's well-written and coherent. The text-to-speech feature can be especially effective here, helping students improve their oral and written communications skills by enabling them to hear their writing read aloud. Teachers may also want to make students aware of how to reach an audience, perhaps limiting the video length or the overall number of words students are allowed in their presentations. This will encourage them to generate short, impactful statements rather than long explanatory paragraphs. All in all, Animaker Class is a solid choice for engaging students through creative design and fun animations.