How I Use It
I have students create a Powtoon presentation based on content we'v covered in class. Students appreciate the using this product over things like slideshow presentation, essay writing, or oral presentations to the class. Powtoon offers a creative way to create a rather simple animation, and allows students to determine how they present their learning.
There is a learning curve to Powtoon and not all elements are in the free version. There is an abundance of tutorial videos that help in learning how to use Powtoon and I suggest teachers develop a curriculum that includes progressive learning of the application for younger students. Older students can find and learn from tutorial videos as needed.
My high school students found working for a full week on Powtoon was a bit too long (we covered a lot of material), so in the future I would have them select 4 of the 6 topics we covered in the unit, rather than requiring they cover all 6. But it can also be used for themes as well (i.,e. create an animated commercial, a PSA, digital storytelling, review of a book or artwork, creating tutorials, etc.
Students also use critical thinking skills in planning out their Powtoon projects. They must consider the sequencing, inclusion of a beginning, middle, and end, their spelling and grammar, and timing of multiple events in a single frame. This unit for my students follows a slideshow animation that includes many of the same techniques and sequencing of ideas and content, so this feels like to them the next logical iteration in digital storytelling. But for me they also must demonstrate competency of content.
I enjoy the student Powtoon projects. Students appreciate the departure from standard/typical assignments for conveying understanding or demonstrating competency (or digital storytelling). Plus the additional requirements for critical thinking and sequencing (logic) and working with the timing of events requires higher level thinking skills and helps to reinforce those. Furthermore, I believe Powtoon is one of those applications that will help students develop a stronger base for learning other (possibly currently undeveloped) applications in the future.