Automatoon is a free service for creating simple to complex animations that you can reuse anywhere on the web. There are three basic steps to using Automatoon. First, you draw and color your images. Second, you break apart each element of your drawing. And third, you specify the animation action for each part of your drawing. For example, when I made a simple animation of a face I started by drawing the face then separating the elements and finally specified the sequence in which I wanted the face to be reassembled as an animation.
You can add as many parts to your Automatoon animations as you like. There are three basic animation actions that you can specify; bend, change, and move. Each part of your drawing can have one, two, or all three of those actions. The tricky part is putting together the correct sequence of actions.
Automatoon uses HTML5 so that you can create and view your animations on devices like the iPad 2 that don't support Flash.
Watch the video below for a tutorial on creating animations using Automatoon.
Applications for Education
Automatoon reminded me a tiny bit of the old Logo Writer program that I used to create animations in elementary school. What I remember about making those animations with Logo Writer is that I had to make sure my sequences were correct in order to have my animations display the way that I wanted them to. In that sense Automatoon also requires users to specify sequences correctly in order to produce an animation as they envisioned it. So in that sense Automatoon could be used as a way for students to see the importance of proper sequencing. But that's about where the similarities between the two programs end.
Automatoon could also simply be used as a tool for students to develop animations for websites and other multimedia projects that they're developing. Perhaps you could have students build animations to explain things like a lunar eclipse or volcanic eruptions.