WEEK 5: READING REFLECTION & MEDIA TOOL #1
For this week’s Blended Learning class, I decided to use the class time to experiment with a new media tool I had never used before. In the past, I’ve created many infographics for various purposes. However, I wanted to elevate the power of infographics by creating animated/video infographics. After searching the web for free animated infographic tools, I came across PowToon.com. This website allows you to create animated infographic “movies” for free (if you don’t upgrade to the premium version). Yet, there’s a cost to the $0.00 price tag – it leaves a watermark on the corner of your entire video and it doesn’t let you export in HD quality. Considering this, I still decided to experiment with the tool. I created my video from scratch, experimenting with the animation and knowledge visualization capabilities offered by this tool. My PowToon creation, where I integrated a reflection on the readings for this week, can be viewed at the end of this blog post.
Affordances of PowToon
- User Interface: I found this website very easy to use and navigate. It is designed to be user-friendly, as its tagline suggests: “So Everyone Can Animate.” It even provides you with simple tips to get you started and has in-depth tutorials as well. The format is similar to a slideshow, where you can work slide-by-slide (or frame-by-frame) to create a final video. The timeline at the bottom of the slide lets you customize your animations.
- Layouts: It offers many layouts (free and premium) to guide you in creating your own infographic. You can begin by choosing a pre-made PowToon or start from scratch. If choosing the latter, you still have the option to use the following categories for layouts: infographics, creative business, corporate, whiteboard, and cartoon.
- Customization: While the website offers free icons and animations, a majority of the stylistic elements require a premium account. However, you can easily personalize your work by uploading your own images or images/icons from the web. It also has a built-in photo editor.
- Voiceover/Soundtrack: You can easily record a voiceover or add a pre-recorded file. There are several sample music files available in the free version or you can upload your own music files.
- Exporting: PowToon offers several exporting options, including direct upload to YouTube.
Limitations of PowToon
- Cost/Premium Upgrades: There are several icons/animations that require premium upgrades. The cost for premium upgrades is $89/month for Pro Upgrade and $197/month for Business Upgrade.
- Watermark: If you choose to use the free version, a watermark will automatically appear throughout your video.
- Software Issues: While working on your creation, PowToon saves your work quickly when you remember to click the save button. However, I noticed that when slides were duplicated, it showed an error notification asking you to refresh the page. This occurred several times, but all saved changes were not affected.
- Exporting: The exporting process can take some time. When exporting, you can only save the video as a file if you have the premium version. The exporting quality for YouTube is also restricted to 480p unless you upgrade to premium.
Overall, through my “serious play” with this media tool, I found myself fully engaged in production pedagogies. I was able to achieve meaningful learning by engaging with and reflecting on the readings through this knowledge visualization platform. It truly helped me understand and visualize the ideas from the readings. This would be a powerful tool for both students and teachers to use in and outside of the classroom because it enables production pedagogies, digital storytelling, creative design, and critical making. PowToon enables you to transform static infographics, presentations, and slideshows to create dynamic animated videos. I would definitely consider using this website for my final project.
HD VERSION (REQUIRES FLASH):
YOUTUBE VERSION (480p):