Review by Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Education | Updated September 2014

PowToon

Super-cool presentation tool relies on teacher for classroom relevance

Common Sense says
Teachers say (18 Reviews)
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Grades
4-12 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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1 video | 5 images

Pros: Presentations look clean, professional, and add an element of fun.

Cons: Support and blogs are geared more toward business use than school use; more collaborative elements would be useful.

Bottom Line: Creative tool has potential to be a unique addition to any classroom, but could use more support for teachers and classroom inspiration.

PowToon has the potential to be an effective tool for both teachers and kids. Teachers will need to familiarize themselves with the tool before introducing it to students, however, and they'll need to spend some time walking students through the basics. Then, just let kids get creative. Instead of having them write reports, assign presentations on topics as varied as historical images, science experiments, or literary analysis. Have them work in groups and present to the class, or work on their own and present directly to you.

Teachers can liven up their lessons with attention-grabbing presentations on an unlimited number of topics. PowToon blogs feature inspirational articles on the merits of using animated presentations. Mostly marketing hype, they also provide some useful hints, so you may find it helpful to browse through them.

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PowToon gives users tools to create animated and slideshow presentations. Anyone can sign up for free with an email address; teachers can buy a classroom account for up to 90 students. Once signed in on the website or Chrome app, users can design presentations using ready-made templates or start from scratch. Both options allow unlimited customization by adding text, images, simple animations, enter and exit effects, and more. Images are organized by styles; for example, the marker style offers visuals that seem as though they're whimsically drawn with a marker. (Free, Basic, and Elite accounts unlock different numbers of styles.)

When finished, upload the presentation to YouTube and send it to the teacher account for review, or keep it in your personal PowToon dashboard. Many other features, such as professional voice-overs and the ability to download presentations onto DVD, are available for a fee.  

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PowToon seeks to spice up the traditional slideshow presentation, and for the most part, it succeeds. Tools are easy to use, and attractive stock images and animations make professional-looking presentations. This could be a terrific resource for teachers to present more interesting lessons and for kids to create unique reports on what they're learning. 

PowToon's use in the classroom, however, feels a bit like an afterthought. Support, examples, and the general feel are geared more toward use in the business world. More education-related examples and blogs for inspiration, along with the ability to collaborate and work on group projects, would make this tool an even more valuable classroom resource.

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Overall Rating
4

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
4

Students will enjoy using the images, animations, and other cool creation tools. 

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

The tool provides many options for creative expression. Kids and teachers can put together professional-looking presentations, which can increase student interest in the subject matter. 

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 an initial getting-to-know-you period, navigation and creation are pretty easy. Lots of tech and how-to support is provided, but not much help for classroom implementation. Prompts or examples could inspire teachers and kids.


Teacher Reviews

5
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Featured review by
Jennifer O. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
4
Lots of fun for presentations!!!

I really like this as a presentation tool because it allows students to get creative. By giving them a presentation topic and scaffolding their English along the way, you can help them combine both tech skills as well as language skills. I also recommend having students evaluate each other's presentations for accuracy, organization, content and even effects. By setting a rubric beforehand highlighting specific areas, this can function as a point of reflection for the class.

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