I think having English Language Learners create short online animations is a great benefit the Web provides. Students can work individually or in a group very methodically by making well-thought-out storyboards and then implement them, or they can make “quick and dirty” ones right on the spot.
Their creations can then be posted for all to see and comment on, both online and in-person.
Because they can be so useful to English Language Learners, and to other students, I’ve decided to create another “The Best…” list — this time highlighting the sites that I think are most accessible to English Language Learners (and are free).
You can also find links to these sites, and to other animation sites that didn’t make this list, on my Examples of Student Work page.
All of these sites are very good (or else they wouldn’t be on my list!). However, there is one that stands-out among the rest. So even though I’m not ranking them all like I usually do, I will be highlighting one as the best.
Here are my picks for The Best Ways For Students To Create Online Animations:
I’ll start off with the site I think by far is the best (and which has appeared in other “The Best…” lists) — Dvolver Moviemaker. It’s so easy, no registration is required, and it can be done quickly. Very new Beginning English Language Learners have been able to use it very effectively. You can see many examples of their work here. The company also has a more advanced application called Digital Films. You can create a more complex animation, but it is far more complicated to use — so I stick with the first version.
Myths and Legends is a United Kingdom site where students can create animations of……myths and legends. It’s pretty neat and easy, and has the added great benefit of letting students record the narration for their story. Teachers have to register, and they’re very open to schools participating from around the world.
The Zimmer Twins are another popular animation site among ESL/EFL teachers. You have to register for it, but doing so is quick and easy. One nice feature it has is that you can make a movie from “scratch” or it gives you pre-made scenes and plots (I guess its the animation equivalent of sentence-starters or sentence frames).
Kerpoof is a great site where you can make an animation and a lot more. You have to register here, too, but the process is also easy. Up until recently you weren’t able to get the url address of what you’ve created, but they’ve now developed that option.
Fuzzwich is a new site that is in the process of developing a full-blown animation process. Right now, though, you can easily create a “mini-animation” called Minivids. One advantage they offer is that, in addition to providing their url addresses, you can embed your Minivid in a blog or website.
DoInk is slightly more complicated than some of the other animation tools I’ve listed here, but English Language Learners should be able to make simple animations pretty easily. I especially like what sounds like a strict and pro-active policy at ensure classroom appropriate content on the site.
I certainly wouldn’t place any bets on YouTube getting through most school district content filters anytime soon, if ever. But they’ve just announced a great new ability to make videos and animations on the YouTube site itself using GoAnimate, Stupeflix, or Xtranormal and then posting it there. The YouTube feature is called YouTube/create. I can see myself using it sometimes to illustrate a concept for a lesson, or pointing out the idiocy of the latest school reform fad. I suspect that it’s a super-cool tool that, outside of the two ideas I mentioned and potential use in adult ESL classes, won’t have much K-12 impact. But, because it’s so cool, I’m still adding it here.
Go Animate is a really neat site to create animations. When it first came out awhile ago, though, I was concerned about some of the content from other people’s animations (which are all accessible to users) so, instead of putting it on my “The Best…” list for making animations, I added it to The Best New Sites Students Should Use With Supervision. I still have that same concern. However, Go Animate has since developed other ways to deal with this issue. One feature they’ve added is a Go Animate For Schools site (thought there is some cost involved). Another is the creation of a site called “Domo Animate.” Content on this version is constantly reviewed, it has an automatic filtering feature, and people can’t upload their own images. For me, at least, I think going the Domo Animate route is the easiest way to go.
Disapainted may be just about the easiest tools out there to make simple “stickman” animations. Registration takes less than twenty seconds, and you are given a link to your creation. ELL’s can make an animation and then share — in writing and/or verbally — a story about it.
Make It Share It lets you make simple animations. And it provides an embed code for your creation!
Wideo is a new tool for making online animations. You still have to request an invite to use it, but I received mine within seconds of requesting it. I wouldn’t say it’s as intuitive to use as some others on this list, but it does seem decent.
Here’s a video on it:
Unfortunately, it’s hosted at MiniClip, the popular online games site. I’d bet that the vast majority of school districts block the site. However, in the unlikely event you’re in a district that doesn’t, I’ll still add it to this list.
I Wish You To lets you easily draw and create your own Ecards, which you can post, embed, and/or send to someone — and no registration is required.
Also please read The Best New Sites Students Should Use With Supervision to find some other excellent animation applications.
Feel free to offer feedback and suggestions.