Japanese & Spanish students demonstrate proficiency through animated videos

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Making learning relevant for students is an age-old challenge easily addressed when technology is thoughtfully used to publish student work.  On October 22nd, students of Japanese  Professor Chikako Mori and Spanish Professor Maria Mahaffey explored an engaging software platform to created animated videos in a foreign language.  The web-based software is called Powtoon, and allows the user to create and animated video from a clipart library, photos, music tracks, and voiceovers. To see examples of a videos created with Powtoon, click on any of the example from the homepage of the site: www.powtoon.com.

During the workshop, students learned how to use the software to create a short video (less than five minutes) that demonstrates their proficiency in either Japanese or Spanish.  Students were given an option of using the software to create a video that addressed one of several scenarios of their choosing including:

  1. A short story on a topic of your choice
  2. A “How-to” video
  3. A video that offers advice to Japanese or Spanish visitors arriving in the U.S. for the first time
  4. A promotional video of a new product targeted at speakers of the target language

Students also explored the concept of storyboarding as a technique for first developing the script and basic scope and sequence of their video.  Both professors Mori and Mahaffey agreed that students need assignments like this one to allow students the opportunity to use language in a meaningful way.  Futher, the design of the assignment reflects an authentic task that would see outside the walls of a classroom.  Throughout the workshop, students expressed their engagement with comments like, "This is cool!" and "Wow, I could use this for other projects!"