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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Is Your Message Clear? Have Someone Else Animate or Illustrate It

This is a problem we all face at times; we think that we've created a great presentation or developed a great story yet it just doesn't resonate with our audience. This happens to our students too. One way to avoid this situation is to have someone else illustrate or animate what they think are the important aspects of your presentation. Think about having your students do this as an extension of a peer review activity. Here are a few tools that your students can use to create animations and illustrations:

Wideo is a service that allows anyone to create animated videos and Common Craft-style videos online. You can create an animated video on Wideo by dragging and dropping elements into place in the Wideo editor then setting the sequence of animations. Each element can be re-used as many times as you like and the timing of the animation of each image can individually adjusted. Wideo's stock elements include text, cartoons, and drawings. You can also upload your own images and audio files to use in your videos.

PowToon is a nice service for creating explanatory videos through a drag and drop process. The videos that you create feature digital paper cut-outs on a colorful background. Think of PowToon as an online tool for creating videos in the style made popular by Common Craft. PowToon provides drawings of people and objects that you can arrange on blank canvas. After adding your narration to the arrangement you can publish your video. PowToon's free version limits your videos to 45 seconds. 

Animation Desk is an iPad app (free and premium versions available) for creating short, animated videos. The app allows you to create drawings using just your finger on your iPad's screen. In the free version of the app (the version that I tried) you can create up to 50 scenes in each of your projects. In each scene you can include as little or as much as you want to draw on the canvas. There are a few different brush and pencil effects that you can use in your drawings. The opacity of the colors you choose can be altered too. When you have completed drawing all of your scenes hit the play button to watch your animation unfold. If you're happy with your animation you can export it to YouTube.

ABCya Animate is a fun new tool from ABCya (disclosure, an advertiser here). ABCya Animate allows students to create animated GIFs containing up to 100 frames. On ABCya Animate students build their animation creations by drawing, typing, and inserting images. Students can change the background of each frame, include new pictures in each frame, and change the text in each frame of their animations.

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