Friday, January 19, 2018

Create Animations With ABCya Animate

ABCya Animate is a fun tool from ABCya that enables 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.

The feature that I like best about ABCya Animate is that students can see the previous frames of their animations while working on a current frame. This helps students know where to position items in each frame in order to make their animations as smooth as possible. Students do not need to register on ABCya Animate in order to use the tool or to save their animations. When students click "save" on ABCya Animate their creations are downloaded as GIFs.

Applications for Education
ABCya Animate could be a great tool for elementary school and middle school students to use to create animations to use to tell a short story. For example, the animation that I started in the picture above could be the beginning of a short story about flying to visit grandparents. To complete the story I would add some drawings to represent my family and perhaps some text for clarification. Your students might also use short animations as part of larger multimedia project.

If you want to create instructional animations of your own, try one of the options highlighted in last week's Practical Ed Tech Tip of the Week.

My Unprofessional Videos

If you follow my YouTube channel or even if you just watch the videos that I put into blog posts here, you'll notice a significant lack of editing. In the last couple of weeks I've had a few people ask me why I don't make my videos look more professional. So this morning I went live on YouTube and Facebook to explain why my videos don't have much in the way of post-production editing. If you missed it, you can view the video here.

Like you, I only have 24 hours in a day and I don't have an assistant. I'm faced with the choice of spending time making post-production edits or moving on to review more tools, learn more, and manage the other responsibilities in my day. If a rough cut or one-take video can convey the information that I need to share, that's fine with me.

Unless you're making videos in which you are the focal point of the video, I don't think that there is a lot to be gained by spending time scrutinizing and editing every aspect of the video. This is especially true if, like me, you're just making three to five minute screencast videos. That said, if you're trying to become the next Keith Hughes, Tom Richey, or John Green then it does make sense to carefully edit every part of your video.

Sometimes teachers don't make videos or don't have students make videos because they think that a video needs to go through a lot of editing in order to be useful. A simple screencast in which you record yourself talking over some slides for a few minutes can be as effective as a three minute video that went through hours of editing. Now that doesn't mean that students shouldn't try to put in their best efforts, but we also need to bear in mind that unless the class is about video production, there are bigger things to worry about than whether or not a video has perfect edits. In fact, one my favorite videos produced by my own students had many flubs in it.

How to Make an Interactive Diagram in PowerPoint

A couple of days ago I published a video that demonstrated how to create an interactive diagram in Google Slides. This morning I received an email from a reader who wanted to know if the same thing can be done in PowerPoint. Yes, you can use PowerPoint to create interactive diagrams. I made the following video to show you how to make interactive diagrams in PowerPoint.

How to Create & Send Screencasts from Your Inbox

On Thursday morning I featured Loom 2.0 which offers a convenient way to create screencasts on a Chromebook, Mac, or Windows computer. One of the "hidden" features of Loom is that once you have connected it to your email account, you can launch Loom's screen recorder directly from your inbox. Not only can you launch it from your inbox you can also add your recording into any email that you are sending. As I explain and demonstrate in this video, Loom makes it easy to quickly send a screencast to a colleague who emails you to ask for tech help.