How I Use It
I have used Animoto in class to introduce the basics of digital/video storytelling. Middle school students were asked to create an Animoto depicting a theme from our novel "The Outsiders" we read in class. They had to learn how to upload pictures, videos, and even think about copyrighted information when choosing their material. There are not a lot of options for students to edit the final product, so it's a good one to start with that won't allow students to get lost in "transition and color scheme" land for too long.
Overall, a good beginning digital storytelling tool. You have to remember that your students will be limited in what they can do with this tool (that's either a great thing or a bad thing!) The student accounts limit the length of the video. The final product is easy to share/download so a student can present to the class. I think you can hit some higher level thinking if you plan the assignment well- make the task require some interpretation and planning ahead of time for the students. The making of the video itself will not require higher-order thinking.