GoAnimate Tool Evaluation
Here is my GoAnimate creation.
The learning curve for GoAnimate was easy after deciding on a template to use. GoAnimate walks you through how to create a video step by step. There was no guessing how to add elements or where to find them. Browsing through things to some time, but once I was familiar with the options and played around a bit it was no problem. There are several backgrounds, characters, animations, props, text, and sounds to choose from. You can also add your own narration and even make a composition shot to zoom in on your created scene. All in all the features of GoAnimate are basic and easy to understand and navigate.
There was one main drawback. As with any new tool it always takes more time than you want the first time. I had everything the way I wanted it and then I discovered the free version only allows you to create a video that is 30 seconds long. I originally thought I could make a longer video in my first skim. This added extra time to creating a video because I had to trim it down to 30 seconds. It is also hard to do multiple scenes in a 30 second time frame. Another drawback of the free version is that you cannot embed your videos you can only link to them. When you want to showcase your video for presentation purposes this could be a deal breaker.
In the end I still found it useful and I can see why people would invest in this tool. The free version on the other hand has its limits and hence has fewer educational uses. In my online unit I used GoAnimate to create a 30 second introduction to myself and instructed my students to do the same thing. Other possible educational uses could include students creating commercials to advertize a book, mock election, or propaganda for a historical event. A teacher could use it to create writing prompts to engage students or a teaser for an upcoming unit. There are many possibilities, but they are limited by time. I am not sure the time put in to creating a 30 second video is worth it, especially if students are not familiar with it.
PowToon Tool Evaluation
Here is my PowToon creation.
The learning curve for PowToon was small because it has many parallels with PowerPoint and other slide presentation tools. There was an easy walk through tutorial. You can select a ready-made template or start from scratch. I started from scratch because creatively that is easier for me, but many of the templates could be useful if you need a jump start or do not want to reinvent the wheel, which saves a lot of time. Due to the similarity and familiarity of PowToon’s features with slide presentation tools the time to create a product was less than GoAnimate. In PowToon you add and delete slides, add music, text, and narration, add your own images or choose from the variety of characters props and backgrounds offered, and of course there are slide transitions and a few animations to choose from. Editing is easy too and very visual. There is a editing bar at the bottom that makes it easy to keep track of your editing. Very organized editing layout.
The only drawback I encountered with PowToon is that it can move slowly if there is not enough bandwidth. Loading it took more time than I would like, but I do not have the fastest Internet at home. Getting it to load took probably five minutes and refreshing a couple of times. So if you have a whole class of students on at one time I could foresee the site either crashing or there being delays, but with an online class this would be less of a problem. Also like GoAnimate you cannot embed your presentation video with the free version. All you can do is copy a link. In the online learning environment this makes it less visually appealing, but in the physical classroom this probably would be less of an inconvenience. Either way this publishing limitation of the free version is less of an issue because it has enough options for creation of a good product.
There are more educational uses with PowToon than GoAnimate, in my opinion at least. The templates in of themselves lend more options. There are templates that can be used for book reports, compare and contrast, class syllabus, announcements, school/class rules, teacher/student introductions, storytelling, and unit teasers. I personally used PowToon to create a mini lesson presentation on the difference between autobiography, biography, and memoir. I found this more engaging than me doing a mini lecture or a PowerPoint. I could see myself using PowToon a lot in the future and more importantly my students. It is a nice way to mix things up to get away from PowerPoint, Prezi, and NearPod both for teachers and students.
Viola Tool Evaluation
Here is my Viola creation.
The learning curve with Viola screencasting and capture tool is very minimal if you have worked with other screencasting and capture tools. The video tutorials were helpful in highlighting the various features of Viola. For example, this tutorial shows you how you can capture images and edited them in a unique way to create a whole new image. Probably after 10 minutes of exploring and watching tutorials I was good to go to create my screencast. Viola’s key features include folders to organize your videos and images, you can trim your videos, easy navigation bars with options to record using the webcam, on a website, full screen, or a screen selection that can be a rectangle, circle, polygon, or freehand. Publishing is also easy with option to YouTube and Vimeo, while you can export to iPhoto, Dropbox, Google Drive, or your blog.
Viola is an easy tool to use, but like any screencasting tool you have to do it mostly all at once. While recording you can pause the video, which makes it easier to get a cleaner recording. You can also trim your recorded video, but only at the beginning and end. Duplication of video is also possible, so you could take the best parts of your attempts and export them to a video editing tool like iMove, but this requires more time and it is just better to try to get it all in one shot. I was unfamiliar with the short cuts for stopping and pausing the screencast recording, which made it a little clumsy, but with some practice this won’t be an issue in the future. As far as the image capturing aspect of Viola it is sophisticated, but you cannot make a video from your stills. In order to make a video you would need to export the images to a tool like iMovie or set it up in a way that you can do a screencast with the images on your computer screen. This is a little more work, but the editing features for still images captured might be worth it depending on what you are trying to communicate.
As you can see by my Viola creation example it does have educational applications. Its obvious educational application is making video tutorials for students on how to complete an assignment, navigate a website or tool, or even give a webcam lecture. The image capture aspect of Viola allows you to capture menus and images from anywhere on your computer screen, which makes it easy to violate copyright laws, so you have to be careful. The images could be used to enhance presentations, lessons, or used to engage students in a discussion, writing, or reflection activity. Although Viola is more of a teacher tool I could see students using it to do the same things a teacher uses it for, but the school would need a license in order to have access to all Viola’s features. I could see the screen capturing and editing tools be useful for students to create posters, advertisements, or images for a presentation or story. Overall I will be using Viola in the future to help enhance my lessons and walk my students through multi-step tasks.