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Animoto: Slideshow Maker
Pros: Impressive multimedia presentations are a no-fail way to teach kids the building blocks of storytelling.
Cons: You might have to be on alert for students sharing their presentations publicly through social media sites.
Bottom Line: Anything that happens during school can be turned into an engaging video slideshow.
Any school experience -- including class assignments, field trips, science experiments, and school plays -- can find new life in a skillful and engaging way with Animoto. Students can easily share their pretty projects, too. All Animoto videos default to private and are public only if kids opt to share a video's URL. Still, you'll have to keep an eye on things, as sharing through a variety of social media or through email and SMS is very easy to do with both the Animoto app and on the website. Location Services also defaults to on, but this can be turned off manually in the device's privacy settings.
Animoto: Slideshow Maker lets kids 13 and older combine pictures, video, music, and text to make video slideshows on a mobile device. It connects to an auto-generated Animoto web account, so teens can create, share, and access videos on a computer, too.
To get started, kids tap Create and choose a theme to determine the look of their slideshow. They can add a song from either their own or Animoto's music library, and add video clips and text. An in-app camera lets them capture images, or they can import from their device's gallery. Then, everything gets compiled into a 30-second slideshow-like presentation. With a paid upgrade, or a free educator's upgrade (email address required), you can make slideshows of unlimited length -- if you dare. Animoto stores all the videos teens create within the app and in their accounts on the Animoto website. All videos are available at the Video tab. And it's easy to share videos, which is one of the prime things kids will be looking for. They can email their slideshows, send them as a text message, post them to a blog or website, export them to YouTube, or download them to a computer. They can also tag friends and share on Facebook or post on Twitter. Finally, kids can download their slideshows to their device's camera roll.
Animoto excels in its simplicity and impressive final product. It uses "Cinematic Artificial Intelligence" to analyze music, photos, and video clips to produce customized and orchestrated transitions. If students get lost, helpful editing tools show them how to spotlight, rotate, duplicate, or delete images. The text tool lets them add relevant messages, statistics, and captions to entertain and educate their audience -- which is, of course, you and their friends.