Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Create your Own Educational Cartoons?

The other day I discovered another new animation tool on the net. GoAnimate is sort of free. You can create your own custom characters. The first one's free but others will cost a small amount, probably a buck or two.

I made a couple animations so far and it's pretty easy to do. For free you get a small number of characters you can add to your videos. You can have them talk in a number of different voices using the text-to-speech engine, or you can use your own voice. Each character has a number of "actions" they can perform as they move about to tell your story. There are a number of backgrounds to choose from, you can put your characters in a number of different settings as well.

If you want to pay $18 for 3 months or $58/year you get more options of things to do, like upload your own background images and post your animations to YouTube. GoAnimate offers an educational version as well. I applied, but apparently the response has been huge so they're a little back-logged on that front. It appears that this will give me some of the paid features for free.

Anyway, how will I use this tool? My first thought was to use it in a similar manner to how I've used BitStrips. I've used BitStrips to create little comic strips that I've used with my colleagues, but I've not used it with my students. The ones I've created are a bit of commentary on life as a teacher. But I digress. I really like the question-dialog idea presented by Derek Muller over at Veritasium. In his videos he starts by asking questions designed to elicit the common misconceptions held by most people before explaining the concept to be covered. His Ph.D. research shows this to be more effective than simply explaining the relavent ideas.

I wasn't sure how I could incorporate this sort of dialog into my own videos. Going out and interviewing random people (or students) would add an extra level of complexity that I'm not sure I want to do. OK, I would like to do it, but it adds a lot of extra stuff to deal with. Including a camera operator, some sort of hand held or wireless microphone with audio recorder, and more time editing all the extra footage to get just the bits I need.

Could an animated dialog give me the same results? I think it could. Is GoAnimate the tool I should use? This I'm less sure of. It certainly could be, I'll know more when they get back to me from GoAnimate4Schools. Below is my first attempt at a dialog with myself. I created a version of me as close to me as I could. The voice is my voice recorded with the microphone built into my laptop. This, or something like it, may serve as the introduction to a video on the force of gravity and or objects in free fall. This is why I ask a question at the end with no resolution.

GoAnimate.com: Investigating Misconceptions by falconphysics

Like it? Create your own at GoAnimate.com. It's free and fun!

Cross-posted from my science education blog FLOSScience.com

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