Thursday, February 27, 2014

Animoto: Easy Breezy for Movie Project 轻松简单做电影

(Reminder: Just want to know what Animoto can do, scroll down and explore later! :)
Before delving into this online tool, Animoto, just pause for a moment and wonder aloud why we step out of traditional classroom setting and try these tools that move the lesson outside the brick-and-mortar classroom. This is a legitimate question, which was raised by one of my colleagues weeks ago, "why I need to step out of my comfort zone?". Yes, you are heading to a unfamiliar territory.  The fancy websites, online presentations, videos, etc. all look simple. Yet it indeed takes a lot of time to prep these projects and no matter how well you think you are prepared, there are issues, the link is broken, the internet connection is down, and on and on.  The direct benefit is that some paper is saved and hopefully, more trees.  But what else?

The answers blended/online learning experts provide is that using these online tools/resources help increase students' engagement.  However, why the-teacher-and-the-material combination is not enough?  My personal experience as a student (very recently, I finished some schooling in 2011) is that after having a class for a while, things become routine and this interesting individual who happens to be a teacher could become boring, merely because I see this person so often in the same context.  Many people I talked to, including adults who have to sit in long workshops (although feels long, usually an hour maximum), told me "I wish (the teacher, the presenter, the speaker) let us do something."  Well, using these online tools to make something could be much more easier and sometimes more exciting than, say, making a poster using markers and construction paper, using real camera to shoot a real movie, or putting on role-play with props.  Anecdotal Evidence? If I have time, I would never make another display board instead of showing a dynamic presentation. Animoto as well as many other tools can make you one of those presentations. More anecdotal evidence? When you tell students, we are going to use Animoto (what, oh animation, movie) make a movie out of the script you just wrote. Their eyes become bigger (I am talking about poker-faced teenagers) and they will ask you every single day when they can start. At least that happened to me.  I can switch the tool name and objectives of activities but the reaction is pretty much the same, "I wanna do it; I wanna do it."

Now, you are convinced; let's talk about Animoto,  I used to hate it because I love iMovie.  Granted, Animoto could hardly make any iMovie kind of production.  But I tried Animoto app.; and that changed my opinion.  As a pro Chinese or any kind of typer, I can make a short movie-like presentation within 5 minutes.  What you produced on the phone will automatically synced with your online account.  What Animoto allows you to do is simple, uploading video or image, adding text, providing you with cute background animation and upbeat music, and finally sharing via online social media, link, email, etc. Free account allows you to make 30 sec. videos; $5/month subscription or $30/year allows you to make 10-min. video.  To me, 30 sec. free account is enough. I realize that 30 sec. rule forces students to edit their words so they fit in the time frame.  It can't match the iMovie quality but it makes a movie project possible.  Many kids actually manage to finish the whole presentation on their phone.  That's quite amazing.

Animoto可以帮你把呆板的幻灯片变成集动画音乐一体的小短片。你可加载自己的录影和图片,加字幕,这个网络工具提供背景动画和音乐 ,最后分享做完的作品。背景动画其实设计得非常棒,音乐也都很活泼得体。学生可以轻松使用这个工具,几乎不需要老是指导。免费的帐号可做30秒的短片,5美金一个月或者30美金一年的用户可做10分钟的短片。不过我觉得30秒足够了。因为只有30秒,学生得编辑浓缩自己的字幕,是个不错的找中心意思的练习。 我以前并不怎么喜欢Animoto, 可是最近发现它有手机应用。手机上完成的小电影会直接上传到网上帐号。在手机/平板电脑上用这个工具就更快捷更方便,我可以在5分钟内搞定一个电影。

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