Around this time last fall I published a big list of my go-to tools for creating videos with students. Since then some of the tools in the list were rebranded and or had some notable updates. This is my updated list of recommended video creation tools for classroom projects.
By the way, I created the list because other than questions about Google Workspace tools, I get asked more questions about making videos than any other three topics combined.
Audio Slideshow Videos
Other than one-take videos, the audio slideshow style of video is probably the easiest of all video formats to create. It’s also one of the most misunderstood when it comes to using it in classroom. For an audio slideshow project to be effective students first need to plan the sequence, find the best visuals, apply appropriate text (but not too much), and choose an appropriate soundtrack. If you want to take it a step further, you’ll want students to create a script to narrate their videos. Here’s an overview of attributes to look for when students create audio slideshow videos.
Here are my top three choices for students to use to make audio slideshow videos.
Almost since its initial launch six years ago, Adobe Express (formerly known as Adobe Spark) has been my go-to recommendation for this style of video project. Adobe Express makes it easy for students to create succinct audio slideshow videos. Adobe Express limits the amount of narration that students can record on each slide within their videos. Adobe Express also includes a library of background music that students can have inserted into their videos. Finally, students can upload short audio clips to include in their audio slideshow video projects. In this short video I demonstrate how to create a video with Adobe Express.
Canva now offers two ways for students to create audio slideshow videos. The first way is to simply put together a series of slides and then select a soundtrack to play in the background. That process is demonstrated here. The other method is to use Canva’s full video editor to add narration an custom timings to an audio slideshow video. That process is demonstrated in this video.
Microsoft Photos includes a video creation tool for making short audio slideshow-style videos. You’ll find this by just opening the native photos app in Windows 10. Within the editor there are tools for adding animated effects to still images, insert your existing video clips into a video project, and tools for adding audio to your video. There’s also a great option to search for Creative Commons licensed images and insert them directly into your video project. The best part of that feature is that attribution information is automatically added onto the images you choose through the built-in search tool. In the following video I provide a demonstration of how to create a video with Microsoft Photos.
Green Screen Videos
Making a green screen video can be a lot of fun for students and also a lot of fun for peers, parents, and teachers to watch. More than a decade after it was published I still occasionally refer to this video from Greg Kulowiec’s middle school class as an example of a fun green screen project. Making a green screen video can seem intimidating at first, but once you’ve tried it a time or two you’ll find that it’s not as complicated as it might seem. Today there are lots of tools for making green screen videos. Here are the three I typically recommend and introduce to teachers.
Make a Green Screen Video in iMovie
If you have access to a Mac or an iPad, this is the tool to use. It’s free (provided you already have a modern Mac or iPad) and has just enough features to make a nice green screen video, but not so many features that it takes a long time to learn how to use it. Watch this video to learn how to make a green screen video in iMovie on a Mac. Watch this one to learn how to make a green screen video on an iPad.
For Chromebook users and Windows users, WeVideo is my go-to recommendation. Here’s a demonstration of how it works.
If you don’t have a physical green screen to record in front of, you could use Zoom’s built-in virtual green screen capability then import that video into Adobe Spark for final editing. Watch this video to learn how that is done.
Making animations is a great way for students to bring their written stories to life on screen. Depending upon the story, the animation could be as short frame or two that plays for twenty seconds or it could be a five minute story.
ChatterPix Kids is one of my favorite digital storytelling apps for elementary school students. ChatterPix Kids is a free app that students can use to create talking pictures. To use the app students simply open it on their iPads or Android devices and then take a picture. Once they’ve taken a picture students draw a mouth on their pictures. With the mouth in place students then record themselves talking for up to thirty seconds. The recording is then added to the picture and saved as a video on the students’ iPads or Android devices. Watch my tutorial videos below to learn how to use ChatterPix Kids on Android devices and on iPads.
Google Slides, like PowerPoint and Keynote, provide users with lots of ways to animate elements within their slides. Use those animation tools to make clipart and simple drawings move on the screen. Then capture those movements with a screencasting tool like Screencastify or Screencast-o-matic. Of course, you’ll want to include a voiceover while recording. This method can be used to create animated videos like those made popular by Common Craft. You can read about and then watch this whole process in this Practical Ed Tech article.
Canva has lots of animation options that you can add to almost any graphic that you create in it. You can animate text, make objects spin and move, and even add audio to play in the background when you make a graphic in Canva. Your finished designs can be downloaded as animated GIFs and as MP4 files. Canva’s video editor can be used to create animated videos. That’s a process that I demonstrate in this video.
From creating a math lesson to explaining a workflow there are lots of purposes for creating whiteboard-style instructional videos. Last year I had students make simple whiteboard videos to explain network and wiring diagrams. Here’s a handful of tools for making whiteboard instructional videos.
In June Google added a built-in screencasting tool to the Chrome OS. If you’re Chromebook is updated to the latest version of Chrome OS, you have access to this tool. With it you can you can record all of your screen or part of your screen. If you like to include your webcam in screencasts, you can do that with the built-in recorder in the latest version of Chrome OS. And you can draw on your screen while recording. When you create a screencast using the built-in recorder on your Chromebook the recording is automatically saved to your Google Drive account. Once the recording is saved you can share it much like you would share any other file in your Google Drive account.
Watch my video that is embedded below to learn how you can record screencasts on your Chromebook without using any third-party extensions.
Loom is also an excellent and popular choice for making screencast videos right from your web browser. In the following video I demonstrate how I paired Loom and Google’s Jamboard to make a whiteboard-style instructional video. One of the tips that I shared in the video is to use the sharing option in Jamboard to give your students a copy of the drawings or sketches that you use in your instructional video.
Microsoft Flip offers an integrated whiteboard function. You can use this feature to create whiteboard videos for your students to watch in Microsoft Flip. You can also have your students use the whiteboard tools to reply to a prompt that you have given to them. Watch this video to learn how to make a whiteboard video with Microsoft Flip.
Wakelet has integrated the Microsoft Flip camera into their service so that you can create whiteboard-style instructional videos directly within your Wakelet collections. Watch my video below to see how that process works.
Seesaw is my go-to tool for making digital portfolios. I like it because it’s a versatile platform that can be used for more than just portfolio creation. You can use it as a blog, use it to share announcements with parents, use it to distribute assignments, and you can use it to create whiteboard videos. In fact, there are a couple of ways that you and your students can create whiteboard videos in Seesaw. Both of those methods are outlined in my new video that is embedded below.