In my posts on this BioBlog, I will talk about various web 2.0 tools that I hope you all might use with your students. The tools that interest me the most are the ones that encourage a participatory culture – that is, tools that, when used, just might get the students further engaged with the biology and motivated to dig deeper.
So, here’s a first one to try: Animoto. I selected this one mostly because it is so darned easy to use and the results are pretty fun to watch. Nothing to download, no complex interface to master. You just upload your photos, choose some appropriate music, and the site mixes your assets into a high-production-value video clip that looks a lot like a movie trailer. The resulting video can be emailed to people, posted on your web site, or downloaded to your computer for use in other settings. It’s an easy way to get a professional quality “short” to use on your site, in a blog, or to dress up a PPT presentation. Students could use the tool to create projects of their own and embed them on your course web site or wiki. This is mostly for fun and engagement (other, more flexible and extendable tools will come later).
The service for short (30-second) animotos, is free. You just sign up, upload your pictures, pick a song and away you go. I assembled this Darwin Animoto in about five minutes (using Flickr Creative Commons images). If you want to build a longer animoto (with more pictures and a downloadable high resolution version), there is a small fee. But the 30-second free versions work well too. Give it a whirl and tell me what you think.