Animoto is a web-based application that lets users create short 30-second videos with the look and feels of a music video.

There are a great many slideshow makers out there in WebLand. What makes Animoto worth a look?

It does a few things that will make educators happy.
–First, the interface is really easy to use. Browse for photos (even young students can locate a file on a computer), upload music, click “create.”
–The site is free when making 30-second short videos (a good length for a student project–especially if you have to watch a lot of them…) that can be embedded in your website, or just linked to.
–Animoto provides the HTML code you needed to embed the video in your website, à la YouTube.
–The site strongly encourages the use of Creative Commons music. Many–maybe most–web 2.0 sites bleat a bit about not using copyrighted materials, but don’t really go much further than saying, “please don’t do that.” The burden is usually put on the copyright holder, to discover the infringement and contact the site to protest. Animoto goes further, in actually maintaining a “music lounge” of freely usable music, providing links to Creative Commons-licensed music, and actually listing the creator of the music in the brief credits that appear at the end of the video. When you upload music, a little message pops up reading, “Love your artists. Make sure you’re using legit music or have permission to use what you want.” Animoto even runs a monthly contest for musicians; winners are showcased as “Featured Tracks for This Month.”

How could this be used? In myriad ways. Use it in a music class, to explore what visuals seem to match the music, the way the makers of Fantasia did. In an art class, do the opposite–have kids discover what music fits the work of a particular artist.
Of course, you don’t have to restrict yourself to music–after your students have written a poem, have them illustrate it with homemade art or photos, or with freely usable photos. Then record the poem as an mp3 (try the free program Audacity) and put it all together in Animoto. Or have them read any famous passage, prose or poem, and illustrate it.

Learning standards:
NETS (National Educational Technology Standards) call for students to use “”digital tools and media-rich resources” to communicate ideas, and to demonstrate “digital citizenship” by respecting copyright and correctly attributing sources. ALA‘s learning standards similarly call for the ethical use of source materials, and to “use technology and other information
tools to organize and display knowledge and understanding in ways that others can view, use, and assess.”


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