Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Animated Video - What is a Flame?

I'm on a bit of an animated explanatory video kick this evening. This marks the third mention of an animated video in a post today. What is a Flame? recently won The Flame Challenge hosted by Stony Brook University. The challenge required entrants to explain to 11 year olds what a flame is. The 11 year old students choose their favorite explanation and What is a Flame? won.

What is a Flame? explains what causes flames and why flames have colors. There's even a catchy tune at the end that should help some students recall information about flames. It's one of those catchy tunes that you might remember at random moments ten years from now.

What is a Flame from Ben Ames on Vimeo.

H/T to Open Culture

Virtually Cycle the Tour de France

The Tour de France kicks-off on Saturday. This year you and your students can virtually cycle along with the world's best cyclists. Cycling the Alps which I reviewed in May has developed maps for all twenty stages of the tour. You can zoom in on the course, see the elevation profiles of the stages, and navigate through the stages.

Applications for Education
The navigation is a little rough but virtually cycling The Tour de France could be a fun way for students to explore the geography of the course. Start here with stage one. 

H/T to Google Maps Mania

PowToon Looks Like a Great Tool for Creating Explanatory Videos

PowToon is a new service for creating explanatory videos through what appears to be a simple drag and drop process. 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.

I used the phrase "what appears to be" in the preceding paragraph because PowToon is still in beta. I discovered it through this great TechCrunch post yesterday. After reading the post and watching the introductory video, I immediately registered for a beta invite and I am now anxiously waiting to getting in on the beta. Learn more about PowToon in the explanatory video below.

Applications for Education
Once I get my hands on a beta invite (and to be honest, I'm hoping writing this post will prompt PowToon's creators to send one to me sooner than later) I'll know for sure, but so far it looks like PowToon could be a great tool for students to use to create video explanations. By removing the requirement of creating drawings, PowToon allows creators to focus on telling a story as best as they can.

What Are Cookies? And What Do They Do?

Image Credit: 
No, this is not about those delicious-looking cookies to the left. This is about the kind of cookies that are captured when you browse the web. Last year I shared an Explania video that illustrated and explained browser cookies. Yesterday, Common Craft released an explanation of their own. Watch both videos and I think you'll have a pretty good understanding of what cookies are and what they do. I do wish that both videos added a little more information about why and how websites and ad networks in particular use cookies.

Use Instagram Images in Animoto Videos

This afternoon I gave a brief demonstration of Animoto to a wonderful group of educators in an Ed Tech Teacher workshop. It was the first time that I had used Animoto in about a month or so. When I went to add images to my video, I noticed the new option to import images from your Instagram collection. While I don't have enough pictures in my Instagram account to make it worth while, this could be a fantastic feature for some people.

Applications for Education
Animoto has long been one of my favorite tools for to show to educators and or students who have never made a video before. It's easy to get them started and quickly producing nice-looking videos. One of the things that I always stress when I show Animoto to educators is that they need to guard against getting sucked into the visual effects and look for content and process. By that I mean we need to have conversations with students about storyboarding, the symbolism and power of imagery, and the power of sound tracks to influence how we feel about what we see.