Common Sense Review
Updated November 2016

Animoto

Create snazzy video slide shows with simple, flexible features
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Common Sense Rating 4
  • Animoto is a digital slide show creator.
  • Users can add up to 20 photos or video clips to create their own video slide shows.
  • Users can choose photos and music from their own devices or online.
  • Pick styles to add effects to your slide show.
  • While there are several paid pricing options, educators can request a free account to share with their students.
Pros
Eye-catching final projects are fun to make and simple to share.
Cons
Lack of features means presentations won't have much depth.
Bottom Line
Slick music videos and slide shows are easy to make, but students need more controls to personalize them.
Patricia Monticello Kievlan
Common Sense Reviewer
Foundation/Non-Profit Member
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4

A highly satisfying and easy selection-and-upload process for music, images, and video clips means kids will have fun creating slick-looking content.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 3

You can't control transitions or add narration to stories, so there is a lack of depth. However, arranging images and videos to music is a great way to hone creativity and 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? 4

Simple videos on the developer's website show how to build a video project, and the home page offers plenty of advice.

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

Your best bet for Animoto is to draw on its strengths and recognize its limitations. For an art project or maybe a book report, it could be useful and engaging. It's certainly fun to create slide shows and satisfying to watch the finished presentations. Also, it's a bit of a primer on video-editing software. Choices are limited, which makes the site easy to use, but it also means the teaching potential is limited.

If you're using a lot of video in the classroom, you might be interested in our teaching tips and resources here: Get Students Thinking Critically About Video.

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What's It Like?

Making flashy video slide show presentations with Animoto is simple. First, select Create a Project, and the site walks you through each step. Choose a theme, upload short video clips and and your own images or images from a Creative Commons site such as Flickr. Then, upload your own songs or songs from the site, and add text if you'd like. Like magic, the site creates a video and publishes it to your Animoto account. The finished product is a modern and engaging presentation that's appealing for kids and adults. 

Once published, users can share the link, grab an embed code, export to other video sites including YouTube, or download a version to the desktop. New themes for projects and new music tracks, sorted by genre, are added regularly, so there's always something new.

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Is It Good For Learning?

While Animoto is cool, it won't let teachers or students express their ideas in a complex way. For teachers trying to engage students in digital storytelling, Animoto might not be the best tool; creating a slide show is simple and straightforward, but the ease of use means that you automate a lot of the creative process and don't have much editorial control. The main problem is you can't adjust transitions; the site syncs them to the rhythm of the song, which is fine for a vacation slide show but has limited potential in the classroom. Also, you can't add your own voice narration, so the emotional resonance of digital storytelling gets lost. 

It takes a little doing to get free access to Animoto: Educators have to apply to request a free account, and then they have to set up special Gmail addresses for their students to grant them access. While that's a great way to get access to an otherwise paid tool, some teachers may not feel that jumping through these hoops is worth it. Still, if you're willing to take these steps, Animoto is an awfully fun way to make a professional-looking slide show.

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