Review by Patricia Monticello Kievlan, Common Sense Education | Updated November 2016

Animoto

Create snazzy video slide shows with simple, flexible features

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Creativity

Subjects
  • English Language Arts
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
7-12
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (74 Reviews)
4

Take a look inside

5 images

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.

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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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, and then upload short video clips 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 a video is published, users can share the link, grab an embed code, export it 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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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 that 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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Overall 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's 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.


Common Sense Reviewer
Patricia Monticello Kievlan Foundation/nonprofit member

Teacher Reviews

4
(See all 74 reviews) (74 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Molly S. , Student
Student
2
Not Impressed.

I didn't like this product as a teaching tool. I understand that some classes use it as an introduction to video editing, but I didn't find that it worked as a presentation tool for classes not editing-focused. For an ELA teacher, I didn't understand how I could incorporate this software into my classroom.

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