Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Using Animoto to Document Performance Based Assessments

Used Animoto for the first time today.

Last week, my Freshman Latin I students wrote, directed, and produced their own version of the 'Death of Julius Caesar'. Collaborating on the production for homework each night via Skype and submitting rough edits of the script to me via Google Docs, they managed to pull it all together in five days' time.

I took photos during the command performance and was thinking about just posting them up on Flickr when a friend suggested Animoto.

What a great suggestion.

Maybe I'm the last guy to catch this train, but Animoto lets you upload pictures or video to a simple template and then add text, diagetic edits, and music. With a click of the button, the app renders a funky mix of your raw footage and voila -- a new way of documenting performance based assessments.

So for our document: I uploaded the photos I took, I cut-and-pasted the text from the Google Doc in which they wrote their original script, and -- on the advice of a student hanging out in the room at the time -- added a bit of 'Moonlight Sonata'.

Took less than ten minutes.

And bam: we've got a nice looking piece of project documentation that the kids can share with their friends and be proud of. (At the writing of this post about four hours after it went live, over 100 folks have stopped by to check it out).

I can see all sorts of uses for Animoto. Some folks on Twitter mentioned digital storytelling. I think that's possible, but I'm even more interested in taking it on as a post-storytelling media. And so I've set my Latin III kids to the task of using the app to make movie trailers for imaginary bio-pics of the Roman lyric poets we're reading this semester. And to make this more than just an exercise in new media, they'll be sourcing all of their material via Delicious and, if approved by me, they'll be able to access the final edit of each of their bio-pics for information purposes during the comparative lit essay section on our final exam.

I know this is just our first attempt, and I know that we'll get better at it, but I see a lot of promise even in this rather simple documentation of a project. Check it out over at Animoto and leave a comment; and we'd be grateful to hear about and see what other teachers and students are doing with the app.


  1. I've used Animoto for the past year or so to document student learning- be it building snow shelters or our "broom" forest during a rain forest unit. However, I really found power in using Animoto with students to review vocabulary. I assigned students a word (say canopy from the rainforest unit) then had them look up pictures on Flickr to which they added a title and a definition (self made) of their word. The final step was to add music (students most favorite part of it of course!) and we had some pretty cool ways for kids to remember vocab.

  2. Its seems the best way to use Animoto is to uprade. Can an entire class use and upgraded account or would each individual have to decide whether to upgrade?

  3. Campbele,

    As an educator you can get an education account which is the same thing as an upgrade allowing you to make longer movies, etc. You'll need to apply and sometimes this is a lengthy process as animoto doesn't always get back right away but it is free and worthwhile in the long run

  4. Thanks,
    I thought they might do that, but didn't see it. I'll look a little more!


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