Tech Tool of the Month: Animoto – Part 1

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Animoto is an amazing free tool to create slideshows with many extra touches (images, music, video clips, sounds, and other forms of media). The user interface is easy to use and basically requires click and drag to move text, add images, and more. There are many templates to choose between as you begin your project, and you can change the layout, colors, and music as desired. Animoto is device-agnostic, so ideal for the BYOD or 1-1 classroom. Also ideal for blended and distance learning, as presentations can be shared using a URL. 

Applying the Triple E Framework

The Triple E Framework, created by Dr. Liz Kolb, is built on the belief that “effective technology integration begins with good instructional strategies and not fancy tools” ( Dr. Kolb wrote a book on Learning First, Technology Second (ISTE, 2017) that lays out the three main uses for technology in education: to Engage, Enhance, or Extend learning goals. We can use this framework to decipher why we are using specific tools in the classroom. Here is a rubric based on the Triple E Framework you can use to evaluate whether Animoto (or any other technology) is a good fit with your learning goals and whether you should use it in your lesson.

  • Engage in learning goals:  When students are viewing teacher-created Animoto slideshows, the students are more focused on the task because they are working at their own pace and using/viewing the slideshow. There are no badges, games, or other extras to distract from the process of learning. When students are creating their own projects using Animoto, students are more engaged because they can create their own slideshows and include images, videos, and audio clips that represent content learning goals (for example, sharing a slideshow related to an explorer they are learning about in social studies). 
  • Enhance learning goals: When students are using Animoto as a consumer (simply viewing slideshows created by the teacher), the slides allow students to use technology to make connections to understand concepts and ideas. Students creating their own Animoto slideshows can enhance learning goals as it allows students to share questions, concepts, and information. The slideshow and media options allow students to demonstrate a more sophisticated understanding of the topic by creating their own original work. Students are using higher-order thinking skills to organize their thoughts and words for the slideshows. Creativity is also included as students have the option to add images, text, videos, and audio clips. 
  • Extend learning goals: Dr. Kolb describes extended learning as an opportunity for students to learn, connect, and collaborate outside of the regular school day and as a bridge between the school day and real-life experiences. Whether students are using this tool to view a slideshow created by teachers or creating their own slideshows, Animoto works well outside of the classroom and would fit in well with flipped, blended, and remote learning. Students could also work collaboratively in class, working in small groups would be a purposeful choice, as fewer devices would be required, and students could work together through the steps of viewing or creating the slides. We are preparing our students for a world that doesn’t exist yet, but most jobs do require independent motivation and knowledge of technology. Animoto allows students to practice skills they will use in the future, as many classes and careers require students to use technology and to collaborate together and review work-related projects.

SAMR Connection

The SAMR Model, by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, suggests that technology implementation has four levels. We can use this model as a guideline to analyze how we’re using technology tools in the classroom. For example, slideshows created with Animoto can be at the level of Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition, depending on how they are created. Let’s talk about how we could take an activity (for example, creating a slideshow about a biome) using Animoto and evolve that activity through these four levels of SAMR. 

  • Substitution: The level of substitution is the most basic level of SAMR and refers to when technology acts as a direct substitute without any functional improvements. Two quick examples of this could be if students were viewing a basic slideshow that a teacher created or if students created their own simple slideshow (about a biome or food web) by just adding pictures on slides instead of stapling hand drawn pages together. Students could add some captions to their photos, rather than writing them on a page. 
  • Augmentation: At the level of augmentation, the technology acts as a direct substitute but also includes some functional improvements. We could take our Animoto biomes slides activity to the level of augmentation by having students highlight specific images or having students add text in between the photos to explain the storyline. These options would not be possible without technology that offers functional improvements. 
  • Modification: The level of modification allows us to make (or modify) the activity into something more integrated with technology, meaning there is significant task redesign. Using the same Animoto biomes slides activity, we could move to the level of modification by adding recordings using their own audio track (even their own voice) using Vocaroo (reviewed here) or Online Voice Recorder (reviewed here). You could substitute the soundtrack they create instead of the Animoto sounds. Students could also change the amount of time that each photo/slide is presented, to change the pacing of the story they are trying to tell with their Animoto slides. This would take the slideshow and create more of a digital story, offering a significant task redesign using Animoto. 
  • Redefinition: At the highest level, redefinition, the technology allows for the creation of new tasks, previously inconceivable. Returning to our example of the Animoto biomes slideshow, we could get to the level of redefinition by having students find and import their own media clips to help them to tell their story and then by sharing the story. Your class could share the slideshows (by url) with parents using a class wiki page or by having the class create and share a Google Site with all of the slideshows. 

Don’t miss Part 2 of the Tech Tool of the Month: Animoto, where we’ll discuss how to use the tool and classroom use ideas by subject. In the meantime, let us know how you have used Animoto in your education setting in the comment section below.

About the author: Melissa Henning

Melissa Henning is the Educational Content Manager for Source for Learning, the non-profit parent company of TeachersFirst. She has over 16 years of experience in education. Melissa is a frequent presenter at national and regional conferences.

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