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(Sometimes I get requests to review products, and I find I just don't have a lot to say. There's not a particularly compelling story; there's not a particularly compelling usage for teaching or learning. This is probably one of those cases. But hey, I made a video. And I wrote this blog entry to substantiate my posting it here.)

It was hard to not love the animation-making tool Xtranormal, in no small part because it burst onto the scene with some hilarious (and often NSFW) user-made movies. (The famous iPhone 4 versus Android Evo is a good example, although one of my favorites admittedly was about getting a PhD in the humanities).

Initially a free tool, Xtranormal began charging late last year, with business plans that cost up to $50 a month, a price way out of reach for most classroom teachers everyone. There was some pushback to the new pricing plan, in part because I think a lot of students and teachers had found the Xtranormal movie-making tool incredibly easy.

 

In late October this year the company launched a new "Xtranormal for Educators" platform. The price is cheaper -- $10 a month for the teacher account, with a $.50 per student charge. At that price, you get student access to the animation-creation tool, and the movies be administered and/or graded by the teacher, with controls too over privacy and moderation.

Is it worth it? I don't know. I mean, if a teacher has 30 students, that's an additional $15 per month. Imagine having 3 classes of 30 and the costs quickly add up. I suppose, you could just pay for a month of the service. Make your videos. Download your copies.

But making these animations with Xtranormal is pretty fun, I will definitely give you that -- and it's a good exercise not just in script-writing but in staging: camera movement, camera placement, and direction. The tool is easy-to-use, although admittedly it was challenging for me to make a demo movie without being a wee bit foul-mouthed. Go figure.

 

(With great apologies and much respect to Dan Meyer)

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Audrey Watters


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