I was having lunch, drinking a cup of Tim Horton’s coffee, and reading TechCrunch when I saw Animoto for the first time in 2008. I immediately tried it and liked it so much that after lunch I had my 9th grade geography students use it to make little world geography highlights videos. My students loved it!
Fast forward 14 years and Animoto still exists as do countless other tools like it. They all work in the same basic manner. You pick some pictures, you pick an audio track, and the program automatically applies transition effects then spits out a short video for you.
The Knock Against Quick & Easy Video Tools
Over the years I’ve heard teachers complain or at least argue that there isn’t any educational value in having students use quick and easy video tools like Animoto or the video editor built into Google Photos. They say the students aren’t developing any skills when they use these tools. In response I argue to think about how and when you’re having students use these tools.
The Value of Quick & Easy Video Tools
The value of quick and easy video creation tools is unlocked when you think about when they’re used, how they’re used, and who uses them.
Consider having students create short audio slideshow videos at the end of a unit of study, after doing some research, or after reading a book. Use these tools to have students make video summaries based on summaries they first write out. Or consider having students make a short video to summarize their favorite part of the book they just read.
Sit down with your students and ask them about the image and music selections they made. I once had a group of students make videos about Presidents of the United States. I spent a lot of time talking with them about how the music they chose could alter the way viewers reacted to the videos.
Finally, you know your students best. There are students for whom a quick and easy video project really is just too easy. But for others, it might provide them with the first feeling of success they’ve had in a classroom in a long time.
Good Tools for Quick & Easy Video Creation
Adobe Creative Cloud Express was previously known as Adobe Spark. I’ve been using it since its launch half a dozen years ago. Adobe Creative Cloud Express makes it easy for students to create succinct audio slideshow videos. It includes a library of background music that you can insert into your videos. Finally, Adobe Creative Cloud Express is a collaborative tool so students can work to create videos. Watch this video to learn how to make a video with Adobe Creative Cloud Express.
Canva offers two ways to create audio slideshow videos. The first way is to simply put together a series of slides and then select a soundtrack to play in the background. That process is demonstrated here. The other method is to use Canva’s full video editor to add narration and custom timings to an audio slideshow video. That process is demonstrated in this video.
Microsoft Photos includes a video creation tool for making short audio slideshow-style videos. Within the editor there are tools for adding animated effects to still images, inserting your existing video clips into a video project, and tools for adding audio to your video. There’s also a great option to search for Creative Commons licensed images and insert them directly into your video project. The best part of that feature is that attribution information is automatically added onto the images you choose through the built-in search tool. Watch this video for a demonstration of how to create a video in Microsoft Photos.
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