Common Sense Review
Updated May 2016


Type in your script, watch quirky animated figures bring it to life
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Common Sense Rating 3
Teacher Rating (1 Teacher Review) 4
  • At start-up, a sample animation demonstrates key functionality.
  • To start a new animation, first choose a set.
  • Next, add characters to your scene.
  • As you move through your scene, choose camera positions as often as desired.
  • New voices can be installed, covering six languages.
  • Type dialogue and add facial expressions, movements, sounds, and more.
  • Nawmal is available in EDU and MAKE varieties, the latter of which can be used for commercial purposes.
Easy-to-learn, versatile video-maker provides another way to teach, demonstrate learning, or express creativity.
Voices are fairly monotone, and animations are a bit stiff; EDU version has fewer features than the commercial version.
Bottom Line
With a good amount of customizability (including six languages), students (and teachers) might appreciate having a quirky, fun tool to change up videos and presentations.
Jenny Bristol
Common Sense Reviewer
Homeschooling parent/instructor
Common Sense Rating 3
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4

A good amount of options: Start with a sample scene, enter text, then customize using a collection of sets, characters, sounds, and voices. Shy students or those with speech difficulties may feel especially empowered.

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

Words must be spelled correctly, and any mistakes will be obvious, encouraging students to get text right. Videos are simple, so they're a nice change from the traditional but not as in-depth as other video/animation apps.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 3

After getting oriented with the sample scene, it's pretty straightforward, especially since nawmalEDU has more limited options than nawmalMAKE. The help file explains anything that seems unclear. 

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How Can Teachers Use It?

NawmalEDU's uses are only limited by a student or teacher's imagination (and the fairly rudimentary animations). Make your lessons more engaging -- or at least more out of the ordinary -- by presenting text-based material in a quirky animated video. Content can be created quickly with lesson material for any subject and in any of the six included languages, which might make this a great fit for foreign-language classes. Students can also create their own videos, either as individual assignments or group projects. The nature of the program allows less-outspoken students to more easily express themselves, and all students can use it to develop their presentational language skills.

You'll need consistent high-speed internet access to install the program and to use some of the features (such as rendering video), but your videos are stored locally on your PC and not in the cloud. Editing and creating new scenes can be done without an internet connection, though. If you're unsure about whether nawmalEDU will suit your needs, there's a seven-day trial version, which allows access to most features other than exporting videos. Give it a try: It's a neat tool, and it might be just the thing you need to spice things up for your students. 

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What's It Like?

NawmalEDU is an animation and text-to-speech program for PC (or a Windows-configured Mac). A preloaded video kicks things off and shows off some of the program's functionality. Users can modify that video or create their own. To create a new scene, users choose a set from dozens of options (some sets allow photos to be added to the scene) and up to two characters, along with customizable voices, from a library of 250 total characters. Once the set and characters are in place, users type or paste in the dialogue for each of the characters, who will speak via text-to-speech in one of six languages (English, Arabic, French, German, Italian, and Spanish). To finish the scene, users can add sound (both included and custom) as well as change camera angle, pause the action, change facial expressions and physical gestures, and more. Completed videos can then be exported into a variety of video formats and aspect ratios and then presented or uploaded to sites such as YouTube.

Nawmal is available in two versions, EDU and MAKE. EDU is for educational and non-commercial uses and comes with a lower price tag and fewer options. If this program seems familiar, that's because it's based on technology and digital assets acquired by nawmal from Xtranormal, which closed in 2013.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Teachers might use nawmalEDU to present text-based lesson material in a new and inventive way, and students might use it to demonstrate their learning or create their own imaginative videos. Nawmal's flexibility might be its greatest asset, although the fairly monotone voices and simple animations are the downsides. You can input any text, and you can often upload your own images, boosting flexibility and increasing the ways this tool might be useful. Overall, it's an engaging way for students to experience lessons or to practice their own language, spelling, grammar, and communication skills. Also, the tool is nicely responsive. Since the characters will say exactly what's typed, mistakes are instantly clear -- and they're easy to correct on the fly.

Different set and character collections within the program can be used to teach different subjects, to match the instructional content. Characters include animals, crash-test dummies, historical figures and presidents, holiday characters, stick figures, superheroes, robots, and more. All characters are presented without bias and represent diverse groups. Sets include indoor and outdoor scenes, TV show sets, labs, historical sites, the moon, abstract sets, a holodeck, and more and can be mixed and matched with the characters. 

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