By Amy Erickson
Last week, I went over both the expected and unexpected results Robert Talbert experienced after implementing video assignments into the online classroom. Talbert (2017) found that using video assignments increased student effort level, ensured original work, and created a connected online community. In the January edition of the Online Classroom, Dr. John Orlando (2017) takes the discussion in a slightly different direction by incorporating animation into classroom videos. He shares links to animated videos and wonderful suggestions for using animation to grab attention, enhance student creativity, and teach course content.
GoAnimate animation software
Get Their Attention
Dr. Orlando shared a wonderful example for using animated videos. “I made one announcing a faculty development course that used two characters talking in a bar about challenges they face in teaching, with one announcing my course as a solution. Yes, it sounds hokey, but it’s an attention grabber that sets the tone of my training as interesting and innovative” (Orlando, 2017, para. 2). What if students could feel the same way about our classes?
After reading this example, I thought an animated video would be a great way for instructors to introduce an upcoming class. At Excelsior, we typically get teaching assignments before the end of the term. If instructors created an engaging, animated video about an upcoming class, students may be more inclined to sign up for it. Instead of two faculty members talking in a bar, two students could be meeting over coffee, tweeting and Snapchatting about how amazing your class was. An animated preview of your class may set a similar tone of interest and innovation while showcasing the relevance of the class.
Instead of waiting for your course assignments, you could create animated videos ahead of time. Then, when you receive your course assignment, simply drop the appropriate animated video into the announcements. I created the following script for ENG310: Short Stories. (Each bullet represents a new slide with an invitation from an animated version of me.)
- Join me next term for Short Stories where we will travel the world together!
- We’ll take a walk in the woods with Hawthorne and a questionable companion. Get ready to have your faith shaken in this piece.
- Do you like carnivals? How about fine wine? Excellent! Whatever you do, don’t follow Poe’s character into that crypt.
- Pack a sweater and consider investing in a new overcoat. We’re headed to St. Petersburg – wait, was that a ghost?
- As long as you have some warm clothes, let’s head to the Yukon. There we will endure temperatures that test human limits and make a Siberian Husky shiver.
- We will tread lightly when we visit Spain – rumor has it that the local pharmacist cuts out virgin hearts for medicine.
- And you thought Michael Jackson was famous! Wait until you encounter the author of our next piece: Tolstoy. Buckle up! This piece starts where most stories end and the protagonist, Ivan Ilyich, will make you reflect on your own legacy.
- Leave your overcoat behind, we’re headed to Africa to experience conflict as a path for the dead is ignored. This does not end well.
- We’ll return to the states for a quick stay in a town where an annual ritual consists of killing one community member.
- We have more places to travel, so I hope you’ll join me. Get your passport ready, tune up your imagination, and let’s explore some fantastic literature together!
I really like the idea of a video introduction in the online classroom, but the animated introduction may be the perfect solution for camera shy instructors and students. Such lighthearted introductions may help your students feel more comfortable in the classroom and make the instructor seem more accessible.
Do you have trouble getting students to read and acknowledge the guidance surrounding Turnitin? Every term, it seems that some students miss out on this important information, leaving you to send follow-up emails or submit zeroes in the grade book. Perhaps using an animated message about Turnitin would capture student attention. It is certainly worth a try! If you have engaging ways to get student attention for important information like Turnitin or the late policy, please let us know so we can learn from your expertise.
Orlando (2017) assigned animated projects to students and was pleasantly surprised by the results. “This is far more engaging to the student than a traditional paper, and students will respond with surprising amounts of creativity” (para. 3). As much as I love written assignments, I like the idea of allowing students to explore other avenues of expression.
Orlando (2017) also recommends having students create animated videos to teach content to their peers. Students will likely put more time, energy, and thought into material for peers, while instructors get to build a repository of videos to help future students. Instructors could create a hashtag and share current and previous videos on Twitter for students to access at their leisure. (An example might look like this: #Eng101AnimatedThesisStatements.)
PowToon animation software
Orlando shares the following animation sites for faculty to try: VideoScribe, PowToon, Wideo, GoAnimate, and Plotagon. A word of warning: there is a learning curve with these tools. It took me over an hour to create a video with PowToon and I still have several technical adjustments to make. Make sure you carve out an adequate amount of time to create these for your students. If you are asking students to create an animated video, be similarly generous with timelines.
Orlando, J. (2017, January). Simple animation for your courses. Online Classroom. Retrieved January 15, 2017 from http://www.magnapubs.com/newsletter/online-classroom/155/Simple-Animation-for-Your-Courses-14343-1.html
Talbert, R. (2017, January). Making learning visible with video assessment. Online Classroom. Retrieved January 5, 2017 from http://www.magnapubs.com/newsletter/online-classroom/155/Making-Learning-Visible-with-Video-Assessment-14346-1.html