At the nexus of learning and innovation

Why communicate through video?

And how to create animated video in 5 minutes? By Erica Ho

I always want my students to share their ideas with others. But it is not realistic to expect students to read writings written by peers when they don’t even have time to finish the course readings you assigned, our students are too busy to read.

Communicate through video

How about watching videos? If the video is not boring, I think students are willing to spend time on it. In fact, I believe most of our students enjoy watching online videos and they post comments on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, or other social media platforms every day.

So I let my students create and share videos in their course project. Each student in my course created a 3 to 5 minutes video - a short story or scenario about how the student could apply the knowledge they learned to daily life. Students shared their videos on YouTube and their peers can watch and comment. Below is a screen shot of the video created by one of my students.

Screenshot from Plotagon showing animated figures in an office setting

(Credit: Zero Leung)

My students did not complain about the workload, and I believe they like this homework - this is what my teaching evaluation results told me.

Create animated video

There are numerous tools for creating animated video, I introduce Plotagon because of its friendly user-interface and professional output. Teachers and education technology professionals can sign up for a free one-year license here: https://plotagoneducation.com/ and students can try it for 30 days.

You may need 5 hours to write a good story, you may not want to spend another 5 hours on video making and editing. With Plotagon, you can turn your written script into animated video in 5 minutes by:

  1. choosing a scene (e.g. Conference room, Classroom, Bus stop, or Café) with drop-down menu

Screenshot showing how dialogue looks in Plotagon

  1. adding actors (e.g. Isaac Newton) with drop-down menu and you can even create your own characters by customising their appearance (yea, it’s like creating a Sim in the life simulation video game “The Sims 2” – easy and fun! See some of my creations below)

Character options available in Plotagon

  1. writing what your actors say (dialogues) and choosing their emotions (e.g. tired and bored) with drop-down menu
  2. adding actions, sound effects and music all with drop-down menus

The animated video will be generated instantly based on your selected items in the drop-down menus and your written dialogues with computer-generated voice. But if you don’t like the robotic voice, you can press the microphone icon next to your dialogue and record your own voice!

And you can press the play button to see the effects and watch your video. If you want to make changes to your story, simply edit the plot and the animated video will be amended instantly.

Once you are happy with your creation, you can save the video as MP4 file with or without subtitles.

The save menu of Plotagon

You can upload and share your animated video with others. I created three 1-minute (just-for-fun) videos to demonstrate how to use Plotagon to tell stories, you can watch my videos here: https://youtu.be/PKZhpZGXzQA

If your Plotagon Education license expired, there is a free version called Plotagon Story which has fewer scene, sound effect and music but you can do in-app purchase for any items you want. If you want all items, you can try Plotagon Studio for 14 days. For more information, please visit: https://plotagon.com/

What’s next?

Now you know that you only need 5 minutes to create an animated video once you have a story, and no video editing effort is required even if you change your mind after the animated video is generated. This allows you to focus on the content of your video.

Next time I will talk about how tutor-learning can be enhanced through creating and sharing videos, and how Plotagon can facilitate learning and collaboration. Stay tuned for future posts!