How I Use It
I use Animoto as an option for students when assigning a presentation. It also makes a great "complete the sentence" activity.
I first used Animoto with as part of Common Sense Media's digital citizenship curriculum. The assignment was to have students create an Animoto presentation that finished the statement "My digital life is like...". Students shared their presentations with the class. I was very impressed with the quality of the presentations, made possible at least in part by the elegant user interface. The ability of Animoto to emote, to express opinion, is unparalleled in my opinion. At least compared to other online presentation tools.
The process encouraged students practice higher order thinking, like synthesis...putting together images and words to express an idea. It was like visual and auditory poetry, and like poetry, the Animoto was able to express better than simple words.
I was skeptical about the application of Animoto to more fact oriented topics, like Physics. However, when I gave an assignment to my 8th grade science students to summarize Newton's 3 laws of motion, several of them chose to put that together as an Animoto. Surprisingly, it worked. Students who used Animoto for their project were limited in the number of words they could use and in the time they had available, but that seemed to be a strength rather than a drawback.
In all, I was very impressed by the flexibility of Animoto in the classroom. One, students can persuade and reflect and synthesize information very well and relatively quickly. Two, students who use Animoto to present facts are forced to summarize efficiently and explain succinctly.