23 October 2012

Tip Tuesday: Skip the Video or Slideshow, Make an Animated GIF

You remember animated GIFs, right? If you're about 25 or older you first saw them this way. This was really the only way to get "video" at 56kbps speeds.
They had a renaissance a couple years ago and people started using them for new media.
Why should artists and web designers have all of the fun? Animated GIFs are perfectly suited for short, procedural based instruction that is often unavoidable.

Advantages Over Video

Shooting quick video will, in fact sometimes be quicker than creating an animated GIF, but think about these advantages, first.

1. Animated GIFs run the same across desktop and mobile browsers, PC/Mac, and IE/Safari/Chrome/Firefox. Having your students with easy access to internet-ready devices is handy in enhancing their opportunities and extending your classroom, but opening your lesson plan to that many more devices, connection speeds, and architectures is asking for some compatibility issues. Since GIFs have been around so long, you don't have to worry if a student is on a 2002 iMac running IE 5 - they'll be seeing your content.

2. Connection speeds don't matter - there is no buffering. I often have to forgo playing a video for students during class because I don't want to wait for it to buffer. If I can't play a video, I know I've got no chance of 20-something kids all attempting at once via my wireless network.

3. Camera shy teachers (and students) can create animated GIFs without having their faces or voices included. Ever stutter? Voice crack? Are you a perfectionist that doesn't want any misspoken lines or "uhs" in your video? I feel you - I have one YouTube video that for some reason gets crazy play, and my voice cracks right from the get go.

How do I create an animated GIF?

If you can take a photo, you can create an animated GIF. There are several creation avenues to choose from:

I choose myspacegens... Now What?

I chose MySpaceGens because I wanted a tool ALL of my students (and you) would have access to no matter if they were at school or home, and I hate downloading new software.
  1. Take step-by-step images of your procedure
  2. Fine-tune your images for brightness, contrast, and cropping
  3. Upload your images to www.myspacegens.com
  4. Arrange your photos
  5. Set the transition timing speed. Since you want your students to be able to read most of the slide on a pass through, set this as long as possible. My example is set at 3000 ms.
  6. Generate GIF
  7. Save and upload to your website, social media, or LMS!

How'd You Do?

These images taken with my phone. Best case would be with a doc camera or screenshots.

Adaptations for YOU:

Honestly, GIF animation is much easier with the app I use, GifBoom, but I'm glad I've got several more options at my disposal.

Besides using this for steps of a math or science problem, you could use an animated GIF for...
  • slideshow of student work
  • lyrics to a song
  • parsing phrases and other grammar constructions
  • digital flipbook
  • comic strip

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Thanks for sharing!