iMovie: How SAM Animation and myCreate are more than making movies

iMovie: How SAM Animation and myCreate are more than making movies

Apple’s recent Q3 earnings report indicated a record adoption of iPads in education.

There’s certainly something to be said by Apple’s path of taking over the world. As a small business it’s both a blessing and curse… on one side their ability to transform how we all interact and work with technology – from the classroom to home to work – is something to truly respect. On the other side, however, it can be challenging for small businesses and entrepreneurs to differentiate ourselves from others’ perceptions on how we are providing anything more useful and/or different than what Apple offers. For example, we often receive the question…

“SAM (or myCreate) seem effective, but what about iMovie? Can’t we just use that for kids to make movies?”

Technically, yes, you can certainly use iMovie for kids to make movies. However, our products (SAM and myCreate) aren’t designed for kids to just make movies. Yes, their resulting project is a movie, but that’s the carrot to engage and excite the students because of the “coolness” factor and shareable nature. The purpose of our products, rather, is to increase students’ understanding of concepts through the process of using stop-motion animation. Stop-motion is the engaging vehicle for kids to explain content while being creative and working in a team. Quite simply, we are addressing the common core and 21st century skills – well-known buzzwords currently in edu. Movies are just the end result; we care about the process to get to the result.

Can iMovie do stop-motion in real-time?

No. While you can take a series of pictures with a digital camera separately, then import those pictures later into iMovie, you cannot live stream an image from a camera and snap sequential images with onion-skinning to guide the process. And as I mentioned previously, the process is where the value lies in what we do. Kids are taking a concept – such as photosynthesis – and forced to break down that concept and recreate it step-by-step. As they go through this in a hands-on method with their team (usually 2-3 students working on a project at one time), then they are able to better understand the content.

How is making a stop-motion animation different than just making a digital animation or compiling videos/images in iMovie or similar program?

The main difference between stop-motion – the vehicle underlying SAM and myCreate – and 100% digital video or animation is the constructivist work inherent to the hands-on nature of stop-motion. Here’s an excerpt from the Tufts University white paper created by Professor Brian Gravel:

Seymour Papertʼs framework, constructionism, builds on constructivist work by suggesting that learning happens best when the individual is building some measure of external artifact (Papert, 1980; Papert & Harel, 1991). Others have shown that this ownership causes the students to think more critically, become more excited and invested, develop greater conceptual mastery of the domain, and retain the material better than in forms of instruction in which information is delivered to students (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 1999; Fredericks, Blumenfeld, & Paris, 2004; Hake, 1998). More simply, when students build with their hands, constructing some kind of physical artifact or space, they are also engaging their minds with the ideas. Many software simulations and construction environments keep the student on the computer screen for the entirety of the activity. While there are clear, proven benefits for computer-based activities, SAM Animation takes a different approach by bridging the physical world with the digital world. Building an animation in the physical world helps to ensure that the student focuses on the content, and less so on operating the software itself.

To download white papers, watch a video by Professor Brian Gravel himself, and read more about the research underlying our products, check out our research page here.

I could go on… and perhaps it’s another blog post. But, this is a start to laying the groundwork for how we focus on the learning tool, and not the video-creation tool.

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