This is an assignment I designed for each of my four face-to-face, sport and exercise science classes this fall semester.  So, you know the first day of class when everyone is asked to go around and state their name and one or two interesting things?  This assignment takes that traditional classroom activity and digitizes it!  Not only does this activity free up some class time, which we spent going over the syllabus and showing “sneak peak” content videos, but it also provides additional benefits for the student.

To quickly summarize this assignment, students are going to www.animoto.com, creating a short 30-second video that includes their own pictures, videos, music, and text, and then embedding the video into a designated discussion board within our Blackboard course.  Students are required to include their name, major, career aspirations, and what they hoped to learn in this course within their presentations.  Students can benefit from this activity by the following:

  • Creating content: Students today seem to like creating content.  Coincidently, this is the purpose for a lot of Web 2.0 applications:  creating content.
  • Displaying creativity: Students get to display their creativity from day one.  This will hopefully set the tone for creative thinking for the rest of the semester.
  • HTML coding:  Students are introduced to HTML coding by embedding and working with code in Blackboard.
  • Visual stimulation:  Students get to visually see their fellow students and connect the student’s major and career aspirations with their name and face in a virtual sense. Yes, you can obviously do that in person, but even for me I found it helpful when learning the students’ names.  Students today seem to like to learn visually and by doing.  This assignment seems to offer them both.  They also get to see how their own creativity stacks up with fellow students.
  • Problem solving:  If you’ve worked with HTML before, you know there can be issues and problems when formatting and writing HTML code.  Students will have to troubleshoot and find answers to their issues if their code does not work or is not formatted correctly.  I have provided step-by-step instructions for them to code for this assignment, but depending on the browser, the computer being used, updates, and Blackboard, issues will arise.  Part of using technology successfully is being able to effectively handle the frustrations of when technology doesn’t work or doesn’t work quite the way you want it to. Fortunately for us, we did encounter some issues that I will lay out later.

For the most part, though, the assignment went pretty well.  Here is a sample student Animoto video presentation:

Arely Castillo- Introductory Animoto Video.

Make your own slide show at Animoto.

The issues with this assignment were in regards to Blackboard.  Students’ videos were not showing up in Blackboard because, as I found out later, students do not have the capability to embed objects within a forum post.  I will be researching this more later this semester to see if I can design a workaround.  For this assignment, students had to attempt the embed option and then provide a link to their video.  Most of the posts ended up looking like this:

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You could see the outline of the students’ videos and the links provided by Animoto, but the video would not show up due to students being unable to embed objects.  Regardless, the students did a great job with trying to embed the object.  They also seemed receptive to writing/working with HTML code (they said it was easier than they thought it would be).  This was also a good teaching lesson about working with HTML codes:  sometimes things don’t work or show up the way you want and you have to develop a workaround or research the problem.

Here is an example of what my post looked like with the video correctly embedded:

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I obviously had the ability to embed objects within Blackboard while the students didn’t.  This is what the students’ posts were suppose to look like.  In the end, it worked out fine.  Students posted a link to their video on the Animoto site and students were able to view each other’s videos and provide comments on them.

In closing, this assignment worked out pretty well.  Students responded positively to it.  They stated that they really enjoyed using Animoto and that it was easy to use and navigate.  They also said that they will definitely use the tool further in either their career, studies, or personal life.  We had some frustrations with the embedding of the videos, but it was a good teaching point, I think.

Below is the full assignment post including overview, purpose, instructions, rubric, and a tutorial video that I posted on our Blackboard site.   Please feel free to send me an email  If you have any questions.

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Assignment #1: Animoto Introductory Video

OVERVIEW:

This assignment will serve as your introduction to the instructor and to other students in this course. Instead of going around the classroom and providing your name and interests, you will go to the web and create a short, media-based slideshow to share with the course. This short, media-based slideshow will be created using Animoto. Animoto is a web 2.0 tool that combines text, photos, and video to make a smooth, streaming video that you can share. Your video will include your name, major, career aspirations, and what you think this course will include or what you hope to learn more about. You will show this through text and photos (and videos if applicable). Be creative!

PURPOSE:

To introduce yourself to your instructor and classmates through a creative, innovative format.

You will need to creatively design a video slideshow using Animoto that provides a solid description of yourself to share with the class.

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Proceed to animoto.com and sign up

  • If you need help with how to create your video, please refer to the online tutorial that I have created on Blackboard.

  • Create your video using your own photos, videos, and by adding text-dialog.

  • Embed video into the Blackboard forum:

    • If you need help on how to embed the object, please refer again to the online tutorial.

  • Comment on two additional classmates’ posts. There is no length requirement for the response.

RUBRIC:

5 TOTAL POINTS

Points

Quality of Work:

2

Quality of Presentation:

2

Grammar and Errors

1

Here is a tutorial video on how to create the animoto video and how to embed it into BlackBoard: