Thursday, February 8, 2018

Tech Smash: Creating and Using Gifs in Your Lessons


So, I use a lot of video in my classroom. One of the technology units I teach is video production using WeVideo and filmmaking/storytelling techniques, but I also do a lot of informational screencasts to demonstrate assignment directions or how-tos when it comes to technology. (You can check out my YouTube channel here for more.)

Embedding a YouTube video or Google Drive video in Slides is great, but it’s a feature in Google Docs - not yet, at least. Because I rely on video so much, it’s kind of frustrating to link stuff and have a new window/tab open. Many middle school kids don’t like to exert the energy to click on a link and dig for information (ha ha - true story!). They want it RIGHT THERE in front of them. One way to do this is through inserting gifs - short animated looping images. Once you create a gif, they're easy to insert into your doc - same as inserting any other image!

I started out making gifs via free web services like Recordit, which allows you to select a portion of your screen and screencast it. You can then output your screencast as a gif. It’s a great way for beginners to do simple demos, like where to find functions in a menu and perform simple steps in an assignment that require the visual only.

But what if you want to add titles or captions to your gif? What if you have a video file (or portion of a video file) that you want to turn into a gif to insert in your assignment? Here are some options:

Screencast + captions/titles + Ezgif

You can take a screencast (this can be done directly in WeVideo, or via any other fave screencasting app) and upload it to WeVideo, or another favorite video editing tool to add your titles, captions, or annotations as needed. Export your video file. Now, upload it to Ezgif to turn that video into a gif!

Video file + Ezgif (video to gif function; then “frames”)

When you upload your video file to Ezgif, you have the option of splitting the video into individual FRAMES. This is amazing, because you can edit your gif to clip the beginning/end as needed to include just the essential parts. You can also adjust the frame rate to speed up/slow down as needed.

Gif maker in Ezgif!

Whaaat?! An easy gif and animation creator! Upload photos or graphics as individual frames and turn it into a gif. I can’t wait to try this out with my students.

I love that I can “smash” together different apps and software to create quick visualizations to help illustrate concepts for students! Bonus: the looping aspect of a gif ensures that students don’t miss the action; it gets repeated and re-enforced in case they miss the step the first time around.

I used WeVideo’s green screen effects to create short demo videos, and then turned the videos into gifs for my presentation at the GEG Chicago Student Film Festival last week:

P.S. Speaking of tech SMASHing, are you following the Ed Tech Hulk on Twitter? He cracks me up!

- Mrs L.

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