Students creating online videos can be an excellent language-learning experience. Certainly, students can film their own videos, edit them, and then post their finished product online. For me, though, that’s just seemed too time-consuming and technically-complicated (however, I have convinced my school to purchase three Flip video recorders next year, so I might change my mind). Of course, even though I’ve been updating this list, I wrote this before Flip was closed down.
There are many online applications that allow you to create your own videos using content that’s already on the Web. For English Language Learners, these can be great opportunities for developing listening, reading and writing skills. All of these sites are very easy to use, and finished products can be developed in one class session.
I’ve decided to make a “The Best…” list highlighting these video-creation sites.
Links to these same sites can also be found on my Examples Of Student Work page.
In order to make it on this list, these online tools had to be free, accessible to English Language Learners, easy to use, use video content from sites other than YouTube (since that’s blocked by so many School Districts), and not have content available that would be inappropriate for classroom use (at least, not that I could see). This criteria really eliminated a lot of potential sites.
I haven’t necessarily listed them in order of preference, though I have saved my second-choice and my absolute favorite for the end (and believe me, they’re winners!).
Here are my picks for The Best Ways For Students To Create Online Videos (Using Someone Else’s Content):
Harvest Of History helps you explore what agricultural life was in New York over 150 years ago, save video scenes from the site, and then create an online presentation comparing life with how it is today.
You can make your own United States history movie at Digital Vaults from the National Archives. It’s super-easy, and is clearly my second-favorite site on this list.
And now, for, unquestionably the very Best Way For Students To Create Online Videos (Using Someone Else’s Content)… it’s Bombay TV. You can write subtitles, or actually dub with your own voice, over-the-top Bollywood movies. It’s a ton of fun, and a great language development exercise for English Language Learners. Russell Stannard, who has a site that is the gold standard for how-to Web 2.0 videos called Teacher Training Videos, has a couple that give clear instructions on how to maximize using Bombay TV.
Animoto and their newer site, Animoto Education Program both let you easily create videos with music. At first, Animoto didn’t have the ability to include text in the video, which limited its use as a language-development activity for English Language Learners. They added that capability in late 2008, so I’ve added them to this list.
Make a video about dolphins at Winter’s Tail.
I know I’m very “late to the party” on this one, but I didn’t really pay attention to Google Search Stories last year when it came out. Now, however, with YouTube being partially unblocked by our district, I figured it was worth another look. Boy, is it easy to make with with its Search Stories Video Creator! Here’s one I made in a few minutes. It’s titled “Reading.” (unfortunately, Google no longer lets you make these videos).
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 or Stupeflix 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.
Slide.ly is a brand new site that is still closed to the public (but you can find an invite if, as I did, you just search for “Slide.ly + invites” on the Web and you’ll find a number of tech blogs that have free invites), but it looks very good — and very similar to Animoto. You can search for photos online or use your own, and easily combine them with music to create musical video-like slideshows. Thanks to TechCrunch for the tip, where you can also read more about Slide.ly.
Binumi is a site where teachers, students and the general public can search for videos to show and, more importantly, easily make modifications to develop their own creations. You can use a number of the resources and create some videos without having to purchase a subscription though, at first glance, it’s unclear to me how limited the free registration really is…
I learned about Biteable from Ed Tech & Mobile Learning. It seemed a bit clunky, but it’s also new, and it’s free. It would be an easy tool for students to use — it’s sort of a somewhat less sophisticated Animoto. You can’t embed the video, but it provides an easy option to upload it to YouTube. Here’s a quick video I made using it:
Let me know if you have any feedback or other recommendations.
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